KUALA LUMPUR – December 11, 2017: A few weeks ago Air Asia got into a heated exchange with the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) over the latter’s supposedly unfair flight seats allocation, with the airline’s executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun describing the allocationas unfair.
His reason was that while Air Asia was given only 24 flights, its competitor Malindon Air was allotted 360 seats.
While Kamarudin claimed that Air Asia had battled and fought very hard to get additional seats, Mavcom chief operating officer Azmir Zain spoke of a different story.
In an interview with The Mole, Azmir, a former director of investment with a government agency, explained that the seats were secured on a government-to-government basis.
“It’s not the airlines who negotiate for these seats,” pointed out Azmir, adding that the recently secured and allotted 1,861 seats to six cities in India were negotiated by the Transport Ministry and the Indian government back in 2010.
“The only thing that had yet to be done was to formally seal the deal at both ends but this was done during our prime minister’s bilateral meeting in India last April.”
Azmir was also taken aback by Air Asia’s protestation, given how the airline had received the lion’s share — 65 per cent of the 1, 861 seats.
Mavcom had in June allotted 1,968 seats – a combination of recently secured seats and existing unallotted seats to India– to three local carriers, namely Air Asia, Malindo and Malaysia Airlines — at 1,308, 360 and 290 seats respectively.
Interestingly, before the June distribution of seats, Air Asia already had 720 flights seats to Bangalore compared to nothing for Malindo.
On why Mavcom had given Malindo so many seats to Bangalore although the airline has never flown there, Azmir explained that the commission simply wanted to prevent a monopoly.
“Malindo has never operated to Bangalore so we wanted to widen the consumer’s choice. Besides, Malindo has a six- month time-frame to obtain flight approval from there.
“The airline has also requested a slight deadline extension, which is a normal practice but if they fail then they will have to surrender the seats to Mavcom,” said Azmir.
A check of the Malindo’s website showed that the airlines will start flying to Bangalore from December 21.