Focus View
Stop burdening travellers and tourists
FocusM team | 27 Oct 2017 00:30
From Jan 1, all international passengers departing from Malaysian airports will have to pay a RM1 surcharge. While this may not be much, many are questioning the rationale behind the fee. 

The government says it is to fund the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom). Apparently, the government spent RM30 mil on Mavcom’s operational costs last year. It is not known what the total cost is. Mavcom was established last year to protect consumers’ rights.  

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd statistics reveal that last year, there were 43.2 million international passengers. This does not include Senai Airport in Johor, which is privately owned. Total passenger numbers this year are expected to be higher and will increase further next year. 

That means Mavcom can expect to receive at least RM50 mil should the number of international passengers reach 50 million. The question is, should travellers be burdened to fund Mavcom? 

We can understand if they have to pay a passenger service charge (PSC) or airport tax as this is the norm all over the world. But should the public be asked to fund a government entity like Mavcom? Shouldn’t a portion of the PSC be channelled to it? 

The Malaysian Public Transport Users Association, for one, feels the rationale for the RM1 surcharge does not make sense. It says Mavcom was formed to protect passengers but is now charging passengers to protect itself. 

Besides this RM1 fee, travellers will also from next year see the PSC for long-haul flights at klia2 increase by 46% to RM73 in line with other airports in the country. Is this really necessary? 

An airline CEO recently suggested that the PSC be aligned according to the type of airport and not by destination. It would be fair to charge a lower PSC at airports which do not have many facilities. For example, charging the same PSC for the Alor Star airport and klia2 does not make sense as their facilities are vastly different.
One size does not fit all and there is no need to burden travellers at smaller airports.  

Tourism is an important revenue earner. Why do we need to unnecessarily burden tourists with surcharges, a higher PSC and now, a hotel tax? We should be attracting them to our shores, not driving them away.