TIANJIN (China): The war of words between Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and AirAsia over how the former runs its operations is not showing any sign of abating. Both AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and his lieutenant Aireen Omar (AirAsia Bhd CEO) wasted no time in responding to the airport operator’s clarification.
MAHB had issued a statement on Friday in response to comments made by Fernandes that MAS and MAHB were a liability to the public.
MAHB’s statement ended by saying that AirAsia has been a beneficiary of MAHB’s strong financial performance. “It has received the most incentives over the last 10 years from MAHB, despite it not being the airline that contributed the highest number of passengers or revenue. MAHB had specifically introduced an incentive programme to support the growth of AirAsia at its infancy stage. This had facilitated AirAsia’s growth to become the successful airline it is today,” said MAHB.
In a series of tweets yesterday afternoon, Fernandes said: “Let’s be clear. Malaysian Airports is a monopoly. My concern is making sure they keep costs down for the Malaysian public and making sure the regulator controls their cost so that they don’t pass the costs onto the public. Profits in most airports are regulated like Britain as they are monopolies.
The regulator in this case sits on Malaysian Airports board. Regulators must be independent and decide what’s fair for the public. My aim is to ensure low cost travel is low cost.
“We created low cost travel. We did not ask for a RM4bil terminal that is three years late. The present low cost terminal cost RM250mil. History will judge AirAsia for fighting for the common man.
“To make flying affordable. Now everyone can fly. And history will judge us for creating 15,000 direct jobs and 500,000 indirect jobs.”
Meanwhile, Aireen said that AirAsia worked hard for the incentives offered by MAHB, which should not be seen as a subsidy or charity.
On MAHB’s statement that AirAsia has been receiving the most incentives over the last 10 years, Aireen clarified that the airline earned the incentives by reaching the growth targets set by MAHB.
“The incentive scheme is offered to all airlines and not just us. It’s up to the airlines to be creative and smart on how to make use of it.
“We chose to take the risk in marketing, work very hard to stimulate the traffic and bring volume into the country,” she said after visiting the Airbus final assembly line here.