The higher international passenger service charge (PSC) of RM73 at klia2 for passengers flying to international destinations beyond the Asean region starting next year, is not to save Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) financial position, its managing director Badlisham Ghazali said.
Dismissing Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara Tony Pua’s claim that the increase was to offset MAHB’s losses on klia2 operations as baseless, he said instead the airport operator recorded a sevenfold net profit in the third quarter of this year compared with the same period a year ago.
MAHB's net profit for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 jumped more than sevenfold to RM79.69 million from RM10.68 million previously following strong earnings growth, driven by higher passenger movements and encouraging commercial turnover.
Badlisham said currently foreign passengers accounted for 75 percent of international departure statistics at klia2 against 25 percent Malaysians.
"Hence, the facilities at the second terminal provide convenience to passengers who are largely foreigners. It is high time that the PSC rate at klia2 is increased as airport tax abroad is generally higher than that of Malaysia.
“So, it is from this PSC collection that will be used to upgrade facilities at MAHB's airports," he said, adding that in fact, the PSC increase from RM50 to RM73 at klia2 is the same amount as that of other airports providing international services such as Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi and Senai.
"This is what many quarters had overlooked, if the services and facilities at klia2 are not comparable to KLIA, why then international passengers feel that airport facilities in Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi and Senai are far different from that of klia2 but they have to pay the same charges,” he told Bernama.
The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) recently announced that the revised PSC would be applicable to tickets issued from Jan 1, 2018, marking an equal rate for all airports in the country to all destinations (the rate revised since January this year).
For domestic and Asean countries, the rate remains at RM11 and RM35 respectively for all local airports, thus benefitting largely Malaysians.
Badlisham said the PSC rate equalisation did not violate the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s principle of non-discriminatory pricing at airports which stated that "airport users, including airlines should not be charged for any unused facilities”.
On the other hand, the policy is about different models of airport operations, he added.
"In Malaysia, under our agreement with the government, we use a cross-subsidisation network model in managing 39 airports in the country by imposing a uniform charge. However, we still do not impose any charge on airport facilities which are not used by airlines, for example, aerobridges.
"So far, less than 10 out of 39 airports in Malaysia under Malaysia Airports are making profit.
“However, unprofitable airports are important in providing a connecting network for people such as the 18 Short Take-Off and Landing airports in the interior of East Malaysia used by more than 150,000 people a year.
“So, if we do not use the network model, passengers may have to pay high charges at unprofitable airports or the government will have to bear high subsidies to ensure the availability of transport networks for all Malaysians,” he said.