This is an old story but repeated yet, ad nauseam, and this time around with a blatant threat to the people of Sabah: let Air Asia operate out of Terminal 2 or the budget airlines would move out of the East Malaysian State! Read here or here.
The threat seems childish and shocking because it was Sabah which supported him in the early days of his airlines venture when he was looking and seeking for fund to establish it.
Some years ago Tony Fernandes, the ostentatious and insolent, Group CEO of Air Asia had already announced that he would rather be chained to a post than moving to the newly refurbished Kota Kinabalu Airport’s Terminal 1. His reasons were: he did not want to use the aerobridges and also pay for the higher airport tax. He would rather the passengers walk to the plane comes rain or shine and continue to face the substandard facilities at the existing terminal 2. His bottomline has always been about profit at the expense of passengers.
What astounds most people is the threat which comes from his bigmouth and the way he dropped Musa Aman’s (the Chief Minister of Sabah) name, giving the impression that the political leadership of UMNO/BN in Sabah is behind his cocky stance. This is what people despise about politicians being in cahoot with bigtime businessman. Is it possible that they are in business together? If that is the case then the public will always be on the receiving end with no voice let alone bargaining power; talk about the symbol of BN (National Front) led by PM Najib being a balancing scale!
Is it an empty threat? Let us see whether this audacious businessman can make good his threat should the authorities take up on his bluff. We still have Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Malindo Air to serve the Sabahans in particular and Malaysians in general. In fact since MAS gave up its JB-KK and KK-Singapore routes to the ingrate Fernandes’s Air Asia, it had lost a lot of revenues. MAS, funded by taxpayers should get back those two routes.
How come MAS still flies the lucrative Kuching-Singapore route? It is most likely that Fernandes could not get the Ex-Chief Minister of Sarawak, Taib Mahmud to eat out of his hand.
He talks about bringing thousands of tourists to Sabah but don’t forget other regional budget airlines like Silkair,Dragon Air, Tigerair and JetStar can do the same if proper arrangements can be inked out. MAS’s budget airlines, Firefly could well jump on the bandwagon too. Who the hell need Air Asia then?
It is unfair for MAS to be subject to political decision as to which route it should operate. The MAS’s rout started from the time of that hopeless ex-PM Abdullah Badawi and his so called 4th Floor boys. MAS was never treated as a business but as a “personal company” funded by faceless and soulless taxpayers. No wonder it never is able to turn around regardless of whether you put a monkey or a human being there as its CEO. And the egoistic Fernandes is applauding with glee at MAS’s predicament; commenting unnecessarily, adding insult to injury.
Beside the obvious Sabah’s UMNO/BN’s “political connection” I am curious why the authorities are impotent to show firmness against Fernandes? Just because he gets awards ( the French award is due to his buying many Airbuses, propping up French weakened economy!) here and there doesn’t mean he can bully others. Just put him in his place and see whether he could dance to his own tune (notice the pun?).
Tony Fernandes has become really big-headed and he is an example of the bullying character and very adept at putting politicians and newspaper (The Star) in his pocket so that he could continue acting like the head of a gangster with his pathetic threats delivered boldly to the public without so much of a restrain. This is not the kind of face in the private sector that we want to see in Malaysia. Fancy issuing threats to clients and authorities! His brain needs re wiring.
If the authorities namely Malaysia Airports and the Federal Ministry of Transports allow Tony Fernandes to have his way by letting his airlines to operate out of Kota Kinabalu (KK) airport’s Terminal 2, not only would they be seen as being dictated by him but they would be setting a bad precedent when dealing with other existing and future budget airlines .
According to the ex-Chairman of Sabah Tourism, Tengku Adlin, KK airport terminal 2 was designed and built as a cargo terminal and its usage as passengers’ terminal was temporary while waiting for the completion of the Terminal 1 extension. The work has long been completed but Fernandes has refused to move , daring the authorities to drag him there. Where in the world does a businessman dare to challenge the government?
All other budget airlines like Malindo Air and SilkAir are already using KK airport Terminal 1 extension with its comfortable facilities and convenient aerobridges. What is so special about Air Asia except for its CEO’s conceitedness and pomposity? The other budget airlines can in effect cite unfair competition if the higher cost of their tickets include higher airport tax compared to Air Asia, operating from “cheaper” Terminal 2.
Imagine if each airlines wanted to build their own airport; that is what cocky and wacky Fernandes has been wanting to do so that (wtf) he doesn’t have to pay for airport tax?? Jesus Christ, what about vital airport security etcetera? I am sure he expects the taxpayers to foot the bill for his “personal” airport’s supportive services. Passengers should boycott this kind of unsafe business model.
Hishamuddin Hussein, Najib’s cousin (their mothers are sisters), the current acting Minister of Transports, is known to be weak and would rather issue warnings than taking action. We will see whether he has the balls to be firm with Fernandes and put this recalcitrant man in his place.