PUTRAJAYA: The increase in the fees charged by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) on airlines is essential in order for the authority to upgrade itself and also to be “self-sustainable”, said the department’s chief.
DCA director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the airline navigation flight charges (ANFC) for example, were last reviewed in 1974 and the pricing needs to be revised to keep up with the times.
“As an authority, we need to upgrade our system so we can manage aircraft and flights safely, seamlessly and efficiently, from one destination to another.
“To become an authority, we have to be self-sustainable. We are not here to become a profit-making body, but at least we should be able to finance our upgrading and the modernisation of our equipment.
“We need to upgrade our equipment. We need people to work for us, be they pilots, engineers or air traffic controllers. And they too need to be paid accordingly,” said Azharuddin at a media briefing here yesterday.
He added that the aviation industry 40 years ago was nowhere near where it is today, due to the “tremendous” increase in the number of aircraft in the airspace.
“On average, there are about 1,100 aircraft ‘movements’ around KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) per day,” he said.
Azharuddin said the DCA’s expenditure budget was about RM250mil a year, but its income was only RM50mil.
“We have a deficit of RM200mil a year, which is covered by the Government. We felt that this is the right time to increase the fees and it should be on a ‘users pay’ concept,” he said.
Under the proposed revision on the fees and charges, the usage of airspace, air traffic facilities, pilot’s flight licences and more will increase tenfold.
The DCA is proposing for the ANFC to be increased by 10 times as well, meaning that an Airbus A320 aircraft will be charged RM2.00 per nautical mile compared to the current 20 sen charge.
The ANFC, one of the biggest portions of an airline’s expenditure, is the charge imposed by the DCA on aircraft that fly over the country’s airspace and use its flight information services.
Azharuddin, however, said that even with the increase, Malaysia’s charges would still be among the cheapest in the region, behind the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
Citing a case study, he said an A320 arriving at a Malaysian airport using the DCA’s radar service travelling at 400 nautical miles per hour would be charged RM800, under the proposed revised rate.
“In Hong Kong, the same aircraft would be charged RM861, while it will be RM1,019 in Vietnam and RM1,940 in Thailand.
“These figures’ fees are still a proposal,” said Azharuddin, and the finalised quantum would be announced by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai by April 15, when the new fees are supposed to kick in.
Today, airline operators will be meeting with the DCA and the Transport Ministry to present their counter-proposals on the fee hike.
“These charges are still a proposal, they are not cast in stone yet.
“We will listen to the airlines. They will make their presentation. The ministry will make the final decision by April 15,” said Azharuddin.
However, he said it was out of the DCA’s purview to decide whether the cost of the fee increase should be passed on to the consumers.
“It is up to the airlines to decide on how to deal with the increases, whether they want to absorb it or pass it to the passengers. It is not in our purview,” he said.