KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is concerned over the ongoing spat between Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and AirAsia Group Bhd (AirAsia) and hope issues will be resolved soon.
EPF chief executive officer Tunku Alizakri Alias said the retirement fund manager is acting just like a ‘typical’ concerned investor.
"Just like any investors, we are actually very concerned that the spat was actually being brought up to public.
"It is becoming a very public-spat not only for the two organisations but also bad for Malaysia as a whole,” he said at a press conference after EPF Financial Performance 2018 briefing here today.
Alizakri said MAHB and AirAsia are the two biggest counters, which also the face of Malaysia in the aviation industry.
He added that AirAsia is an airline that brings in tourists and business people, while MAHB representing airports in the country - the first point of contact for any foreigners that come into Malaysia.
“We are naturally concerned that this disagreement was being brought up publicly. We had issued a letter-of-concern to both parties,” he said, adding that EPF was not in a position to arbitrate in the dispute.
Asked on how this spat impacting EPF dividends payout from these two companies, Alizakri said dividends payments always derived from its investments income, driven by market performance.
“If the spat has impacted the market, then of course it will have impact in terms of income. We are not directly impacted from the spat but rather the market performance of stock counters,” he said.
Alizakri said AirAsia has responded to EPF’s letter but still awaiting for MAHB to respond, while noting that EPF was expected to meet up one of the parties soon.
“We are happy with that (letter issuance) to explain the situation. We are looking forward to meeting up them (AirAsia and MAHB), as a concerned investor,” he said.
NST Business previously reported that the government will evaluate and come up with feasible options to resolve the dispute between MAHB and AirAsia.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali was quoted saying all parties must sit down and discuss in the best interest for the country.
That should be the priority and objective of all, which involves other stakeholders too, he had said.
MAHB had filed a lawsuit against AirAsia and AirAsia X Bhd on December 10 for a collective RM36 million in outstanding airport tax collection.
The sum represents the balance of a gazetted airport tax rate, known as the passenger service charge (PSC), on international departures that AirAsia had refused to collect in full.
Later of the previous weeks, AirAsia said MAHB had rejected its offer to mediate a dispute over the PSC collection at klia2.
AirAsia had proposed mediation to MAHB in an attempt to amicably resolve the dispute.
MAHB has insisted on recovering the loss of an average about RM7 million monthly through ‘proper’ means, resulting from AirAsia Group move to charge a lower PSC amount than the gazetted rate.
The airport operator said the disparity of approach to PSC and AirAsia’s action distorted competition and impacted MAHB’s ability to attract new airlines into the country, hampering its efforts to establish Malaysia as a strong aviation hub.
AirAsia and its long-haul unit, AirAsia X Bhd had also defended their refusal to collect the additional RM23 PSC at klia2 imposed by MAHB from February 2018.
AAB chief executive officer Riad Asmat said the move was due to its view that passengers using klia2 should not be charged the same rates as passengers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
AirAsia Group maintained that KLIA Terminal 2 (klia2) is a low-cost terminal with far lower levels of service provided to passengers compared to KLIA, which is a full-service terminal.