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Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad visiting AirAsia Bhd's headquarters RedQ. Also present was Transport Minister Anthony Loke, AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun AirAsia Group Executive Chairman and AirAsia X Bhd chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. (NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR)

SEPANG: The government will look into the issue of departure levy imposed on travelers flying out of Malaysia, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said this will be in regards to imposing the same levy on passengers flying out via low cost flights as well as passengers flying out in full service airlines.

"We are studying this, obviously if they (airlines) are charging passengers low fare, and the government charges such passengers the same exit tax with those in high end flights; it is not fair.

"So we will look into that, we are studying the structure of our taxes so that it will be fair to everyone.

"We have to take into consideration the cost, fare, all of it," he said.

Dr Mahathir said this after visiting AirAsia Bhd's headquarters RedQ here, today.

Also present was Transport Minister Anthony Loke, AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun AirAsia Group Executive Chairman and AirAsia X Bhd chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

At 2019 Budget tabling last year, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the government would propose a departure levy for all outbound travelers beginning June 1, 2019. It has since been moved to start from Sept 1.

The levy for passengers flying from Malaysia to Asean countries will cost RM8 for economy class and RM50 for other classes.

If travelers are flying beyond Asean, economy class passengers will be charged a levy of RM20. For those traveling in premium class, they will need to fork out RM150.

The departure levy will not be imposed on infant and children that are less than 2 years old. Transit passengers passing through Malaysia to catch a connecting international flight are also excluded and the transit period must not exceed 12 hours.

The tax is also exempted for the crew on duty as well as anyone driving or riding any type of vehicle for personal use, and this also includes pillion riders on such vehicle.

The exemption list also includes operators of both water and land vehicles as well as any government operating any type of vehicles carrying passengers out from Malaysia. Commercial operators that provide chartered air services to transport workers to oil rig or platform are excluded as well.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was looking at opening up more aerospace and aviation hubs due to the many opportunities and land availability.

“KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) for example; when it was opened, we reserved 25 acres (10.1ha).

"The 25 acre area may not be enough. We are looking at opening up more aerospace and aviation centres," he said.

Dr Mahathir said the presence of aerospace and aviation sector was not something new to Malaysia, this as local companies had been carrying out finishing touches on airplanes assembled in other countries.

Airbus Helicopters recently opened its regional helicopter completion and delivery centre (CDC) here in Subang, further boosting Malaysia's position as the regional aerospace and aviation hub.

Loke had reportedly said new Airbus helicopters would be delivered to buyers in the region from the centre.

In his speech earlier, Dr Mahathir praised AirAsia’s innovations such as AVA (AirAsia Virtual Allstar), the Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbot and FACES (Fast Airport Clearance Experience System) which would help propel the travel industry into the future.

"In terms of airport experience, AirAsia was the first to implement self-service facilities including check-in kiosk, self-bag tag and self-bag drop machines - which I had experienced just now.

"And today, AirAsia is taking its guest experience one step further by showcasing the possibility of future air travel and digital airports.

"This is in line with Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where enhanced connectivity and automation have led to the creation of smart, autonomous systems fuelled by data and machine learning that are more efficient and less wasteful."

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