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Union rages as Eaglexpress licence renewed, despite salary issues

Malaysiakini  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) wants the authorities to explain why the air operator certificate (AOC) for charter airline Eaglexpress has been renewed despite its alleged financial woes.

Nufam said the staff members of Eaglexpress were still waiting for their back wages.

The certificate issued by the Department of Civil Aviation was issued on Aug 18 and it will expire on Aug 31, 2017.

"What is the real motive behind DCA's move to issue the licence in a hurry, despite knowing that the firm is facing financial problems?" Nufam secretary-general Mohd Azam asked in a statement.

However, when contacted, DCA director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the department issues an AOC if an airline passes a technical audit.

Azharuddin said financial aspects are reviewed by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), where airlines are issued a Air Service Permit if they pass the financial audit.

"An operator must have both ASP and AOC to be able to operate," he told Malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini has contacted Mavcom and Eaglexpress on the matter.

'Promises remain promises'

According to Nufam, Eaglexpress last month promised to resolve all the salary arrears of its employees by the end of August but "promises remain promises".

"Many workers are waiting for salary arrears of up to three months. The company also did not make Employees Provident Fund and Social Security Organisation (Perkeso) contributions," Mohd Azam said.

Nufam also urged the Mavcom to closely monitor airline companies for financial viability.

"If they do not have the financial capability then it is best to just seal their offices.

"Don't waste time investigating, since it brings no benefits and problems remain unresolved," Mohd Azam said.

He also urged Mavcom to do its duty before anti-graft officers come knocking on their doors.

"We understand some workers are already collating evidence to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission," he said.

An Eaglexpress spokesperson told mStar in June that all salary and allowance arrears would be cleared up before Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which fell on July 6.

The spokesperson said the airline had been facing financial issues since February, but was back in business after receiving the IATA safety audit certificate.

Founded in 2012, Eaglexpress is a charter operator carrying Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the haj and umrah.

Mavcom in June suspended budget carrier Rayani Air's operating licence, after it failed to pay its pilots, resulting in a strike that left hundreds of passengers stranded.

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