Fernandes declares war on Malaysia Airports over tax hike

By Lee Wei Lian, The Malaysian Insider

Hot on the heels of lambasting Malaysia Airports over the cost of KLIA2, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes vowed yesterday to fight the government-linked company over the recent 28 per cent airport tax increase.

AirAsia also kicked off an anti-tax hike campaign and many of its customers received emails yesterday asking them to “say NO” to the tax hike for international flights that takes effect today.

“AirAsia views that this increase is not justified as the current airport facilities are not up to par,” read the email. “Let MAHB (Malaysia Airports) know what you think about this Airport Tax Increase. Have your say today.”

AirAsia also gave out the email of MAHB’s managing director, Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad.

The airport tax, also known as passenger service charges, is collected by AirAsia from its customers and subsequently paid to MAHB.

Fernandes, AirAsia’s CEO, made an emotional appeal on Twitter last night, beginning with the airline’s origins and concluding with a battle cry.

“To all Malaysians. AirAsia has made flying affordable for all. Before it was just for the rich. We won’t allow Malaysia Airports to keep wasting money and increase charges for you. We will fight. Our campaign starts tomorrow,” he tweeted.

Airport taxes and fees are regulated by the Transport Ministry, and it recently gave MAHB the green light in to raise passenger service charges by 28 per cent and aircraft parking and landing charges by nine and 18 per cent respectively over three years.  Following the Transport Ministry’s decision, AirAsia questioned whether the increases were justified based on the quality of the airport terminals.

MAHB, on the other hand, argued that its airport charges are already the lowest in the region.

The next review by the government is due in 2014.

Airport taxes at Penang, Kuching and Langkawi will rise from RM51 to RM65, while the low cost carrier terminals (LCCTs) at KLIA and Kota Kinabalu will go from RM25 to RM32.