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AirAsia Bhd group chief executive officer, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes says the low-cost carrier would appeal against the ruling. NST picture by Aziah Azmee.

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Group has been ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to pay RM41.52 million to Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) over unpaid airport charges.

However, the low-cost carrier (LCC) said it would appeal against the ruling.

“We cannot comment on the case as we are appealing,” AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes told the New Straits Times today.

MAHB, in a filing to Bursa Malaysia today, confirmed that the High Court had granted summary judgment in favour of its subsidiary Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd’s (MA Sepang) three civil suits against AirAsia Group Bhd and its long-haul unit AirAsia X Bhd (AAX).

The summary judgment order was for a combined amount of RM40.73 million in unpaid passenger service charge (PSC) and a combined amount of RM792,381.74 in unpaid late payment charges.

“The summary judgment order further included a declaration for AirAsia to pay MA Sepang the PSC rates that have been gazetted in law,” it said in a statement today.

The court also dismissed the applications filed by AirAsia to strike out or stay the three civil suits filed by MA Sepang, MAHB added.

AirAsia and AAX had defended their refusal to collect the additional RM23 PSC at the second terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (klia2) imposed by MAHB from February 2018.

In October 2018, MAHB reportedly issued legal letters to both AirAsia Group and AAX demanding payment for the outstanding PSC for international departures owed since July 2018.

In November 2017, Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) announced the final step for the full equalisation of PSC across all local airports effective from January 1, 2018.

“This last step was to equalise the PSC for non-Asean international flights at klia2 to be the same with those at KLIA and other airports in Malaysia from RM50 to RM73,” it said.

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets today, Fernandes voiced out his dissatisfaction over Mavcom’s roles, noting that the commission’s airport tax was charged “unfairly”.

“Please tell me what Mavcom does? Slows down our growth by taking forever to approve routes? Charge unfairly to our guest airport tax. No regulation on airport,” he questioned.

He continued: “And the worse every passenger pays RM1 every time they fly so Mavcom can have a budget!”

Fernandes said Mavcom was supposed to look after passenger interest. However, he tweeted that Langkawi airport was charged the same as the main terminal of KLIA.

“klia2 charge (airport charge) the same as KLIA. Are they (Mavcom) really looking after passenger interests?”

Fernandes said AirAsia was hopeful of partnering with an airport in the last 18 years but not an operator who just says: “take it or leave it to their largest customer and more importantly to the passengers.”

“I’m so disappointed and frustrated. All we have ever asked is for MAHB to understand our model and help us to create more jobs. We are the LCC, it’s (MAHB) largest customer yet,” he said.

Fernandes said the group had faced difficulties operating at klia2, citing that the gate at the airside was not flat.

“So we had the (aircraft) to be towed to the gate. So many differences and difficulties yet MAHB expects our passengers to pay the same airport tax. (It is) unfair,” he said.

Fernandes said tourism sector was a low hanging fruit for Malaysia in creating more jobs.

“Taxing it will not help. Hotel industry is also struggling to make money. It has the hotel tax on top of so many service fees. Tourism is third biggest foreign exchange earner and the second of gross domestic product earner,” he said.

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