In the face of criticisms against the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), its executive chairman says the airline and airport industry regulator is more focused on passenger/consumer protection.
Abdullah Ahmad, a retired Air Force general, said that since its formation two years ago, Mavcom had received over 3,900 public complaints and managed to resolve up to 93 per cent of them within 30 days.
"I'd like to emphasise here that other than to regulate the airlines and the airports, Mavcom is here looking after the ‘rakyat’ who are using the airlines as a mode of travel.
“We are not a money-making body; what we are concerned about is to take care of the welfare of consumers to make sure that they get what they want out of what they pay and that complaints they put forward are not ignored," he told Bernama today.
Abdullah said that in the past, passengers were at the mercy of the airlines for whatever complaints they made and it was up to the airlines to entertain them or not.
But this was not the case anymore after Mavcom came into being, whereby the passengers would submit their complaints to the airlines with a copy to Mavcom.
"If the airlines concerned do not respond within seven days, we'll move in. We'll make sure the complaint by the consumer is entertained and resolved. And, it's Mavcom's KPI (Key Performance Index) to resolve it within 30 days," he said.
Criticisms against Mavcom came mainly from budget airline AirAsia, with its Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes saying the airline industry did not need such a regulatory body and that the Transport Ministry by itself was very capable of growing the local airline industry without Mavcom.
Fernandes said that dealing with Mavcom had been "nothing short of a torture" for AirAsia and he would never stop fighting for fair industry practices and demand decisions to be made for the benefit of all Malaysians.
The AirAsia CEO said this in response to a police report lodged by Mavcom on May 16 over his accusation that the aviation regulator told the airline to cancel all 120 additional flights it had requested to cater for increased demand during the recent general election.
But AirAsia maintained that it had the evidence and facts to back up the accusations and would divulge them at the right time.
A former member of the steering committee to set up Mavcom, Abdul Gani Patail, has also defended Mavcom, saying that because the civil aviation industry was evolving at an accelerated pace, there was an urgent need to ensure that consumer protection and rights of passengers were made a priority and would not fall through the cracks.
The Malaysian Public Transport Users Association has also criticised the role of Mavcom and questioned the RM1 levy it imposes on travellers.
To this, Abdul Gani, who is a former Attorney-General, argued that the RM1 levy imposed on passengers when departing from a Malaysian airport, except for passengers using the Rural Air Services in remote parts of Sabah and Sarawak, was a "sound investment for peace of mind".
Elaborating on Mavcom's functions, Abdullah said the complaints received were categorised mainly into three -- refund, baggage claims and delayed flights.
Baggage claims are over luggage lost, delayed or damaged and what passengers are entitled to for flights delayed for more than six hours and compensation, if delayed by more than 13 hours.
"So far, through our survey, only 65 per cent of our public is aware of this consumer protection. Mavcom is continuously making more advertisements and educational approach to the public to make them aware of this consumer protection," he said.
Abdullah said most advanced countries also had an independent regulator like Mavcom to help solve “very messy problems in the aviation business".