Sources claim the air charter company’s aircraft are incurring daily parking charges at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to the tune of approximately RM700 per day. (NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

AN international airline is believed to have “shortchanged” its expatriate cabin crew by masking their basic salaries.

This “masking” was allegedly done to enable them to get work permits.

The New Straits Times also learnt that an air charter company had allegedly not paid salaries and other monetary benefits to 200 staff for nearly four months.

Airline industry and Transport Ministry officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed these two cases to the NST.

The officials alleged that the airline had recruited cabin crew mainly from Japan and South Korea.

The NST was made to understand that as many as 25 of them were affected.

“This has been done to facilitate the demand for cabin crew from these two countries as the passengers were non-English speaking and were dependent on their native language,” said a source.

The NST understands the work permits required that the expatriates be paid a minimum monthly basic salary of RM5,000.

However, the expatriate cabin crew, who are on three-year contracts, were paid a basic monthly salary of just over half the amount (of RM5,000).

“The cabin crew unwittingly accepted the employment offer letter, as it fulfils their dream of flying and offered them the opportunity to visit overseas countries,” said another source.

To make matters worse, some of the senior cabin crew were offered lower basic monthly salaries than the recruits, they alleged.

Some of the senior cabin crew were also requested to double-up as instructors to the juniors, but without any compensation, said the source.

The person said the cabin crew had little choice but to accept the terms of employment owing to the tight job market.

The NST was told that the air charter company’s staff are crying foul after being abruptly terminated without appropriate compensation.

The staff — who include pilots, cabin crew, technical and maintenance personnel, and administrative, sales and marketing employees — alleged that the company failed to pay four-months backdated wages plus other benefits to the tune of about RM12 million.

They alleged that the company had deducted scheduled payments for income tax with the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), but failed to remit the sum to the relevant agencies.

The NST learnt that the company’s aircraft were incurring daily parking charges at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to the tune of approximately RM700 each per day.

It is learnt that both cases were being investigated by the Home, Transport, Finance and Human Resources ministries.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) is believed to be checking the allegation, while there was no response from both the airline and air charter company.