MELAKA: There are no bilateral agreements between airlines and the state government and this is why some carriers have discontinued commercial flight services at the Melaka International Airport (LTAM) in Batu Berendam, says Datuk Hameed Mytheen Kunju Basheer.
The Melaka Works, Infrastructure, Public Amenities and Transport Committee chairman said he discovered that there was not a single agreement signed previously to tie down the airlines to provide services for a stipulated time frame at LTAM and this has led to sudden decision by service providers to stop inbound and outbound flights.
“Previously, there were only verbal agreements with stakeholders between the local aviation industry and the state government.
“This loophole caused the loss of local commercial flights when the decision to shut down services was made abruptly,” he said after the soft launch of a global air show at LTAM on Monday (Sept 18).
The event was also attended by Melaka Tourism, Heritage, Art and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Razak Abdul Rahman.
The air show will be held from Sept 29 to Oct 1 at LTAM.
Hameed Mytheen also found that the previous state government had not entered into memoranda of understanding with airlines or signed any form of agreement to tie-up the service providers to ensure commercial flights continued.
“There was also a case where one airline that had promised to serve various international and domestic routes from LTAM but discontinued their services midway without giving a solid reason to the state government.
“This happened due to the absence of an agreement and the state government was unable to hold the airlines responsible for their decisions,” he said.
Hameed Mytheen said he will bring up the importance of having an agreement sealed between the state government and airlines in the next state exco meeting.
“The agreement is crucial to commit these carriers to continue commercial flight services for a term fixed by the state government,” he said.
Hameed Mytheen said he will emphasise the need for an agreement when discussions with seven airlines are opened to operate commercial flights at LTAM.
He said the carriers interested to operate commercial flights in LTAM are from Indonesia and Singapore as well as local service providers.
“The discussions will be held soon in a bid to revive LTAM,” he said.
Hameed Mytheen said that LTAM had witnessed two local airlines ceasing operations, citing a lack of passengers and inadequate aircraft.
He said airlines claimed that their flights in and out of LTAM lacked the desired passengers during off-peak periods and the operating costs were high.
“These airlines have decided to use their planes to serve more lucrative routes,” he said.
Earlier, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh said the loss of two local carriers would not affect LTAM’s viability as an aviation hub.
He said the state government would also hold talks with an Italian helicopter manufacturing conglomerate next month to discuss the possibility of turning LTAM into a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre.
Ab Rauf said the decision by two airlines to cease operations at LTAM recently was purely commercial.
On Sept 5, The Star reported that there were no longer commercial flights at LTAM and local tourism players said that the loss of service was rare.
A check at the airport on that day found that check-in desks, a baggage carousel, and other counters had been empty since last month, with all flights, including those to Pekan Baru, Indonesia and Penang, no longer available.