Mavcom starts probe into AirAsia's Tony Fernandes claim

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 13): The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) said today it will immediately begin investigation into the claim by AirAsia Group Bhd group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes that it had instructed the low-cost airline to cancel all its 120 extra flights during the 14th General Election (GE14).

"With reference to Tan Sri Tony Fernandes' claims in a video dated May 13, Mavcom considers these claims serious allegations. We have immediately commenced an investigation into these claims," the commission said in a brief statement today.

It added that it will keep the public informed on the matter.

Fernandes had earlier today posted a video on his Facebook page, apologising for buckling under intense pressure from the Najib administration by showing that he supported the Barisan Nasional (BN) government by flying the former prime minister on a plane with a BN theme.

This follows severe backlash from netizens for his actions and for breaking the standard operating procedure as the airline has a written clause in its staff contract that forbids them from campaigning for political parties.

In the video, Fernandes explained that he was under intense pressure as he had refused to sack AirAsia X Bhd chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, who had criticised the BN government very strongly.

He went on to say that he had put on 120 extra flights and had reduced its fares for domestic flights during the election period, which were offered at RM99 for flights in Peninsular Malaysia and RM129 for flights to Sabah and Sarawak.

"Within 24 hours, we were summoned by Mavcom and told to cancel all those flights. That put us again on tremendous pressure. We had both Rafidah where we didn’t buckle and we have put in these extra flights to carry the rakyat home, at low fares," he added.