Friday, August 14, 2009

MASwings denies forcing AirAsia out of route

12 August 2009

PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA - MASwings has denied AirAsia's allegation that it forced the budget carrier out of the Kota Kinabalu-Sibu route, claiming that it is merely following the rural air services agreement that is in place.

MASwings managing director Mohd Salleh Tabrani said it is a breach of agreement to allow AirAsia to fly the route.

AirAsia, through its subsidiary FAX, took over the rural air services from Malaysia Airlines in 2006 but handed the services back to the national carrier 13 months later.

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MASwings protested when AirAsia started providing Kota Kinabalu-Sibu flights in May this year.

Mohd Salleh said in a statement that when FAX operated the rural air services AirAsia demanded exclusive rights to almost all air routes within and intra Sabah and Sarawak.

"AirAsia was given the choice to operate it in 2006 and it got more subsidy than MASwings for the same scope of air services. It then quickly surrendered the services back to Malaysia Airlines when they realised how unprofitable the routes were. Later, they want to cherry pick and operate only on profitable routes," he said.

"This is not acceptable as taxpayers' money is involved," he said.

MASwings would need to review the current commitment it has given to the Government, said Mohd Salleh.

AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes said last week the airline was asked to cease operations from Oct 25 as the sector came under the exclusive right of the rural air service operator.

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