Malaysian travelers bear brunt of charges as airport framework still not ready

The MAVCOM framework is not set to be implemented until Q3 2018, but travelers are already bearing the brunt of charges. Source: Chuttersnap/Unsplash

TRAVELERS to and from Malaysia are being penalized as the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) fails to make progress in creating better airport services.

MAVCOM has been working on an Airport Quality of Service framework for the past two years, and by the time the framework is put in place in the third quarter of next year, three years will have passed – with the airport customers facing the brunt of the slow progress.

The framework will be introduced to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA2 from next month. The passengers will foot the bill for MAVCOM’s services.

“While they haven’t got a quality of service framework, they have already raised airport tax and will charge consumers RM1 for their services,” Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, SEO of AirAsia Group, told The Star Online.

This ultimately begs the question of why travelers are being charged and penalized before any structured airport service framework has been implemented.

This intended framework aims to foster a more consumer-oriented aviation industry in Malaysia, however, a report released by the commission in October of this year showed that complaints have risen 92 percent over a six-month period from March to August 2017.

“The rise in the number of complaints being lodged with MAVCOM is a clear indication of the growing awareness among air travelers of their rights as consumers. It is heartening to note that the educational activities initiated by MAVCOM over the past 18 months on this matter have empowered more Malaysians to exercise their rights,” Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Abdullah Ahmad, RMAF, Executive Chairman of MAVCOM, said in the report.

However, it is not certain that travelers would see this rise in complaints as an empowerment, but more of a concern.

“We support and welcome this initiative to ensure the smooth delivery of service at our airports, as our focus has always been on enhancing the customer experience,” Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB) said in a statement.

“We are looking at the critical services and finalizing the service levels and measurement processes, as some of these also involve other stakeholders such as airlines, ground handlers, and Immigration.”

MAHB operates most of the major airports in the country, and have been working closely with MAVCOM to ensure parties involved were accountable and liable for their areas of responsibility.

The Quality of Service Framework aims to set expected levels of service standards and key performance indicators for airports in Malaysia, including cleanliness, queue times, quality of infrastructure and more. Similarly, the framework will also detail financial penalties for airport operators in case of service levels falling below expected standards.

The framework is in urgent demand and almost ready, but the Malaysian government will stop funding the commission next year, and the charges will be inflicted on travelers and airlines instead. Something many people are not happy about.

“The Airports Quality of Service framework should be in place before the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) imposes a levy on air travelers” said Fernandes.