PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has defended its decisions to reject AirAsia’s application to add more flights for Kota Kinabalu - Sandakan route and the Kuala Lumpur - Haikou route.
The commission said it looks to facilitate orderly growth, competition and consumer choice over the long term, and the prevention of consumer inconvenience, in the allocation of air traffic rights (ATRs).
In a statement on Wednesday, Mavcom said in ATRs, the commission wishes to facilitate orderly growth while considering the risk of overcapacity on a particular route.
“Ill-effects of route overcapacity include heightened risks of unutilised seats, which in turn could lead to flight cancellations and merging of flights, which are detrimental to passenger convenience,” the commission said.
Mavcom said overcapacity gives rise to a risk of a carrier exiting a route, and therefore lessening competition and consumer choice on that route in the long term.
“The ATR allocation process itself was designed following close consultation with all Malaysian carriers, including AirAsia. The principles and criteria applied in any ATR allocation has also been made known to all Malaysian carriers,” the commission said.
Mavcom’s statement was in response to a recent media report entitled “MAVCOM rejects AirAsia’s application for more KL-Haikou, KK-Sandakan flights”.
In the case of the Kota Kinabalu - Sandakan, Mavcom said this route was served by AirAsia (18 weekly trips), Malaysia Airlines (7 weekly trips) and MASwings (21 weekly trips) as at December 2017.
On Jan 29, 2018, the commission approved AirAsia’s application for 7 additional trips per week, bringing the total number of trips for AirAsia for this particular route to 25 weekly trips.
“In February 2018, AirAsia applied for a further additional seven weekly trips on this route which the Commission did not approve because of a risk of overcapacity which would inconvenience consumers,” Mavcom explained.
As for the Kuala Lumpur - Haikou route, this route was served by Malaysia Airlines (2 weekly trips) and Malindo Air (2 weekly trips) as at December 2017. AirAsia had previously operated this route but terminated its services in 2012.
On Feb 21, 2018, AirAsia applied to operate 7 weekly trips on this route, and the Commission awarded AirAsia 4 weekly trips on April 3, 2018.
“The decision to approve 4 weekly trips instead of 7 was similarly due to the Commission’s concern for overcapacity of seats and subsequent impact on consumers,” the commission said.
Mavcom said it has indicated to AirAsia that it can resubmit its application for both routes in October 2018.
As at April 30, 2018, the Commission has awarded a total of 397 ATRs to Malaysian carriers since its initiation, of which 295 were utilised by the carriers, while 102 were either not used or subsequently surrendered back to Mavcom.