AirAsia collects higher airport tax “under protest”

AirAsia has since last Thursday started collecting the increased passenger service charge (PSC) of RM73 (US$17) levied by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), following a recent court ruling.

AirAsia has begun collecting the increased passenger service charge (PSC) of RM73

In a statement, the airline said that it will be doing so “under protest”, after losing a lawsuit against MAHB.

In July, the Kuala Lumpur High Court had dismissed AirAsia and AirAsia X’s striking out application in relation to the payment for outstanding PSC to Malaysia Airports (Sepang) (MASSB), a subsidiary of MAHB. The airline subsequently appealed against the order to pay RM41.5 million (US$9.9 million) of arrears to MAHB.

PSC, or airport tax, is charged by MAHB on all departing passengers for the use of airport facilities, and is collected by airlines such as AirAsia on behalf of the airport operator.

MAHB had imposed a higher PSC of RM73 on passengers using klia2 to destinations beyond South-east Asia, stating that it was implementing the same charges as at the full-service terminal KLIA, effective July 2018.

The new PSC was higher than the previous rate of RM50, and AirAsia had refused to collect the additional RM23 from its guests, saying that it was ensuring air travel remains affordable for all, and also that the inferior service and facilities at klia2 could not match up to those at the KLIA.

In February, AirAsia had sued MASSB for almost RM480 million (US$117 million) for supposed losses incurred from operating at klia2.

Following this latest development, AirAsia will now collect the additional RM23 in PSC, and the differential amount will be clearly indicated in the itemised fare as “PSC (Under Protest)”.

AirAsia Malaysia CEO, Riad Asmat, said: “We will collect the full RM73 PSC but we do so under strong protest. Itemising the additional PSC will allow our 5.5 million guests departing from klia2 for non-ASEAN destinations annually to see how much they’re paying for inferior facilities. I believe many will agree with us that they’re not getting their money’s worth, especially when compared to the far superior facilities at KLIA.”

AirAsia X Malaysia CEO, Benyamin Ismail, added: “We really don’t want to be (collecting the PSC), and we sympathise with our guests. PSC for passengers flying beyond ASEAN has more than doubled in less than two years, from RM32 to RM73.”

He added: “This is an arbitrary hike and we will continue to oppose it until all our legal options are exhausted. However, we are forced to collect the additional RM23 as we cannot afford to continue subsidising our guests in the event our appeal falls through. We hope our guests will understand.”

This new ruling culminates the months-long contentious dispute between AirAsia and MAHB over the PSC.

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