AirAsia to pay at least RM40.6m in uncollected PSC to MAHB unit

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 18): AirAsia will have to pay at least RM40.6 million to Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), over unpaid passenger service charges (PSC) from July to December last year.

This follows the High Court here dismissing the carrier's strike out application and allowing summary judgments by MAHB be entered on AirAsia in the three suits against the company.

"I allow order in terms with regard to Order 14 (Rules of High Court).

"The court rules that under Section 46 of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 that the power to set charges lies with the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) while Malaysia Airports (MAHB) is the body issued the licence to operate the airport. I am allowing Order 14 on all three cases," Justice Azimah Omar said in her oral judgment.

AirAsia counsel Lim Tuck Sun told the court that he has instructions to appeal the decision.

Justice Azimah also ordered AirAsia to pay RM8,000 for each suit. This means the airline will have to fork out RM24,000 for the three suits.

A summary judgment under Order 14 is a court procedure used when the defendant does not have any defence to the claim.

MAHB is represented by Shannon Rajan and Eric Gabriel Gomez. MAHB acting general manager (legal division) Nor Aida Othman was also present in court.

The outstanding PSC collection is due to AirAsia's refusal to collect the full PSC of RM73 imposed by MAHB on international departures from klia2.

Instead, AirAsia has only been charging RM50 per passenger on its flights as it feels klia2 passengers should not be paying the same PSC as those departing from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which AirAsia deems is more superior in terms of facilities and service quality.

In its defence, AirAsia applied for MAHB's lawsuit to be struck out, arguing that it is frivolous and an abuse of process, given that the airport operator could have followed proper dispute resolution avenues via the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) Act 2015.

The gazetted rate of RM73, which was stipulated by Mavcom, is an increase from the RM50 charged previously. Mavcom said in a statement dated Nov 30, 2017 that effective Jan 1, 2018, the PSC for international destinations beyond Asean at klia2 will be RM73, being the same rate as those at other airports in Malaysia.

MAHB, however, deferred the implementation of the new rate from January to June 2018, and only started implementing it from July 2018.

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