More Expensive Airfare For Malaysians Soon?
Airlines operating out of Malaysia are expected to pay up to ten times more in fees charged by the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia (DCA) starting from April 15.
The spike in fees will apply to everything from the usage of air space, air traffic facilities, pilot’s flight license, and other services to the air operator’s certificate (AOC).
Most saliently, it will lead up to a ten-fold increase in a monthly air navigation flight charges (ANFC), which forms the biggest cost item for the usage of DCA services.
With the revised fees, bigger aircrafts will bear the biggest financial brunt, but smaller jets, cargo planes and helicopters are not spared either.
The biggest fear for consumers is that the fee increases could potentially lead to higher airfares. Airlines may also impose miscellaneous charges in a bid to pass on the higher cost to consumers.
According to The Star, the ANFC charges will rise from five sen per nautical mile now to 50 sen for lightweight aircraft.
For the bigger birds (the A320/A330 and B737/B777), the cost will rise from RM1 to RM2.50 per nautical mile instead of 10 to 25 sen now, and the super jumbo A380 will see charges go up to RM3 from 30 sen now. The minimum charges will be raised from RM5 to RM50 per nautical mile.
As for the AOC, a vital document for airlines to fly, the initial approval fees will balloon to RM80,000 yearly from RM400 now for mid-sized aircraft, and yearly renewals will rise from RM400 to RM30,000.
Further, pilots who have to be licensed to fly will have to fork out RM500 for their initial flight crew licence and RM300 for yearly renewals from RM100 and RM60 now.
With the increase, if an airline is currently paying RM120,000 a month in ANFC fees, its bill will rise to RM1.2 million a month after the increment depending on aircraft type and frequency.
For example, flights to East Malaysia, a high-frequency route, will cost airlines more from a mere RM160 to RM176 for 800 nautical miles to RM1,600 to RM1,760 for the KL-to-Kota Kinabalu route when the new charges come into effect, although it depends on aircraft type and frequency, The Star reports.
The DCA director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that while some airlines are unhappy with the new charges, they have to understand the expenses for delivery is going up.
“We have to upgrade our systems, maintain and replace them as we want to give them the best. Hence, we have to charge a bit. In any case, there has not been a revision in the pricing since 1970 and it costs us money to provide the services,” he told The Star.
He added: “If you look at the statistics, we are still the lowest in the world, and even if we increase the fees, it will still be lower compared to some other countries in this region.”
He said the DCA had spent RM1.41 billion to build infrastructure and systems to deliver an efficient air traffic management system. The new KL air traffic control centre (ATCC), expected to be operational by 2018/2019, is costing the DCA RM650 milllion, he said.
For future upgrades, the DCA needs about RM550 million to upgrade the new Kota Kinabalu ATCC and for other system upgrades elsewhere in the country.
“Yearly, we are spending about RM125 million just on maintenance, and that is why we need to raise our rates. We are essentially building a new ATCC for the benefit of the airlines,” Datuk Seri Azharuddin said.