Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia is seeking more than RM400 million (US$97 million) in counter-claims against Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), after the airport operator sued the low-cost carrier for RM36.11 million in December.
In a press release on Wednesday (Jan 23), the airline said the counter-claims were for “losses and damages experienced by AirAsia and its long-haul sister airline AirAsia X Berhad due to operational disruptions at klia2“.
Disruptions named by AirAsia include:
- A ruptured fuel line, which allegedly impeded certain operations for more than a month at klia2 Oct 11, 2016 to Nov 22 the same year.
- Closures of the runway on “numerous occasions” in 2018
- Losses incurred due to additional aircraft towing requirements and fuel costs, delays, manpower involved, flight cancellation resulting in loss of revenue and taxiing costs
In their statement of defence, AirAsia Berhad and AirAsia X Berhad criticised MAHB for being heavy-handed in filing the suit.
The parties are also seeking to strike out MAHB’s suit on grounds that it is “misconceived and premature” as they say MAHB did not comply with the statutory provisions for dispute resolution within the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 (Mavcom Act).
According to AirAsia, MAHB and airline operators have a statutory obligation to mediate any dispute regarding any matter under the Act, and legal action may only be used as a last resort after mediation and dispute resolutions efforts have failed.
AirAsia Berhad CEO Riad Asmat and AirAsia X Berhad CEO Benyamin Ismail jointly said via the statement that the airline “has always been prepared to engage constructively” with MAHB, adding that it was “regrettable that MAHB has chosen litigation for reasons best known to them”.
“We maintain that the dispute over airport taxes, which is at the core of MAHB’s suit, is specifically a matter subject to Mavcom’s purview for mediation and dispute resolution. MAHB is well aware of this and prior to filing the suit, had engaged AirAsia in both oral discussions and written correspondence. However, MAHB has chosen to improperly circumvent the Mavcom Act by filing the suit,” they said.
Riad and Benyamin also said that AirAsia had repeatedly communicated issues to MAHB to no avail, and now reserves the right to “exhaust all avenues in recovering losses and damages caused by MAHB’s failure to carry out their duties”.
In its news update, AirAsia also reiterated that travellers flying from klia2 should not have to pay the same airport tax as those departing from KLIA due to “inferior services at klia2″.
“Not only are the facilities and level of service at the two terminals not comparable, MAHB has also done a poor job of maintaining klia2, as evidenced by recent videos showing the presence of maggots and rats at the terminal,” the CEOs said.
Additionally, AirAsia claims that MAHB had not managed costs at klia2, leading to cost overruns which it is now allegedly seeking to recover through higher taxes.