KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 19): AirAsia Group Bhd has made another attempt to seek an out-of-court settlement with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) over an outstanding airport tax dispute, saying it prefers to resolve its issues with the airport operator "amicably".
"In fact, we proposed mediation by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), which is provided under the Mavcom Act 2015, but this was rejected by MAHB," said AirAsia group chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Tony Fernandes in a statement today.
"Unfortunately, Mavcom has also decided to take a hands-off approach although this issue over airport tax, which is the subject of MAHB's suit against us, is within Mavcom's ambit," he added.
Fernandes had earlier met with Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) CEO Tunku Alizakri Alias at EPF headquarters here today.
Fernandes said he concurred with the views of the retirement fund's chief that the ongoing legal spat between AirAsia and MAHB was bad for the country. During the meeting, Fernandes said he had also stressed that the airline had not initiated the suit.
"We share EPF's concerns that this legal battle is not good and has a negative effect on both the country and one of Malaysia's largest revenue earners — the tourism industry.
"AirAsia's record in growing the Malaysian tourism and aviation sectors speaks for itself. We want to grow it further and we have always maintained that we want to make Malaysia the most successful low-cost aviation hub in the world," he said.
"However, our growth is dependent on our low-cost model that we have successfully built our business on. In the last several years, AirAsia has shown exponential growth in tourism and the aviation sector," added Fernandes.
As MAHB's biggest customer, Fernandes said AirAsia would be happy to meet and work with the airport operator to "increase tourism revenues, to boost Malaysia's position as a top tourist destination, to provide returns to our shareholders, and most of all, to ensure every Malaysian can fly".
He added that he was encouraged by the EPF's positive response and hoped the issue can be resolved soon.
On Dec 11 last year, AirAsia announced that MAHB's subsidiary Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd (MASSB) had filed a lawsuit against the airline's wholly-owned unit AirAsia Bhd (AAB) seeking RM9.4 million for unpaid passenger service charges (PSCs).
MASSB had also served AirAsia X Bhd with a writ of summons of RM26.72 million for PSC arrears.
On Jan 23, AirAsia had sought more than RM400 million in counter-claims against MAHB in response to the suits filed by the airport operator.