Saturday, May 1, 2010

Don't jump the gun, Ong tells AirAsia X

28 April 2010

PUTRAJAYA: Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has asked AirAsia X (AAX) not to assume that its application to fly the Kuala Lumpur-Sydney route was not being approved because the Government was protecting Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

"As far as routes are concerned, we cannot please everybody as decisions have to be made according to criteria that is already laid. It is not that we will not consider applications, especially involving home-grown airlines.

"We take a hard look at all applications for new routes and weigh aspects like passenger load, viability, and whether the market for the new destination is large enough to accommodate two airlines," he told a press conference after chairing his weekly post-Cabinet meeting here Wednesday.

"There are also other criteria we have to consider, including the benefits to the Malaysian economy. Thus, it takes time to reach a decision in some cases," Ong added.

"My advise to AirAsia X is that they do not jump the gun and allow us to see if all the criteria are met, as well as let us reach a decision according to the rules and regulations," he said.

Ong was commenting on reports that AAX chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani had lashed out on Twitter last month, alleging that "the (incumbent) is blocking us because they say that route must be protected."

Azran also called for a rational and clear policy on route allocation based on the interests of the country and not an individual airline.

AAX, which intended to start the service to Sydney in the middle of this year, had hoped to get the approval by March.

MAS currently offers 12 direct flights on the Kuala Lumpur-Sydney route while the other airline with the rights, Jetstar, stopped plying the route in 2008 and has yet to resume flights.

By Dharmendar Singh

The Star

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