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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Not the right time to increase airport tax, says Matta

KOTA KINABALU - Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Inbound Vice President Datuk Tan Kok Liang urged the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) to defer the planned January 2017 increase in airport tax until the economic situation improves.

Besides, he said, raising the airport tax or Passenger Service Charge (PSC) seemed out of place in view of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) operating profitably.

He cited the latest revenue collection before tax of MAHB at RM1.679 million representing a growth of 113.4 per cent compared to 2014.

"So why push through something at the wrong time?" he said in a statement, Tuesday.

There is an RM8 increase from the current RM65 that the passengers are paying for international destinations from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) while passengers flying domestic would have to pay RM11 in PSC compared to RM6.

Datuk Tan Kok Liang
"The timing is of concern as business sentiments are dampened with hike in prices of fuel, cooking oil and inflationary cost of living. We are just being troubled day after day with reports of increased costs of goods and services."

Tan also said raising the PSC without improving basic amenities such as clean toilets and proper security equipment is unfair to air passengers.

He noted that KKIA and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) both have the same PSC rate of RM73 effective on Jan. 1, 2017 for international departures.

But obviously, he said, facilities at both airports are in contrast and thus the rates should not be the same.

"The notion on equalisation of PSC rates at KLIA, KLIA 2 and all other airports to be aligned to international guidelines including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) principle of non- discriminatory pricing at airports do not hold unless services and facilities are at par with one another.

"The implementation of the increase by next year is as if we are curbing domestic and international tourism when the government is actively promoting tourism to contribute significantly to the nation's economy where 94 per cent of tourism to Sabah is by air and any unjustifiable air travel cost increase would stifle tourists' arrivals to Sabah.

"The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun acknowledged this fact and recently called for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be reduced from six to three per cent on domestic flights to boost domestic tourism arrivals," Tan noted.

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