PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) urged the Malaysian Competition Commission (MCC) today to investigate whether the recent MAS-AirAsia share swap could have affected the service quality and pricing of both airlines.

Speaking after lodging a complaint with the MCC, Fomca’s chief executive officer Paul Selvaraj said public concerns were triggered after both airlines cancelled flights to several areas in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We want the MCC to investigate whether the move has affected ticket prices and influenced the decision to cancel some flights to reduce competition,” Selvaraj said.
Also present were Fomca president N Marimuthu and its group director of communications Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman.

In October last year, The Star reported that MAS and AirAsia received brickbats from Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar after the air carriers reduced their flights from the Peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak.

Junaidi said anymore reduction in flights by the two airlines to Sabah and Sarawak would tantamount to the latter neglecting their social responsibilities.

In August 2011, both airlines swapped shares which saw AirAsia’s major stakeholder, Tune Air Sdn Bhd, taking a 20.5% stake in MAS.

In return, MAS’ major stakeholder Khazanah Nasional Sdn Bhd was given a 10% stake in AirAsia.

Selvaraj said the MCC must investigate why the flights were cancelled – whether the move was driven by market forces or otherwise.

“If there is an element of collusion between both airlines, then the MCC must act,” he said.

On why Fomca did not promptly express its concerns when the share swap was made, Selvaraj said the consumer body did voice its displeasure through the media.

However, he was disappointed that the MCC did not designate an officer to receive Fomca’s complaint today despite informing the commission yesterday.

“But we managed to lodge the complaint with an officer in the MCC,” he said.

Targeting AirAsia, Selvaraj said Fomca had received a number of complaints against the carrier over the years.

“We had 956 complaints against AirAsia last year compared with 870 we received in 2009. The complaints ranged from poor customer service, exorbitant call charges to frequent delays,” said Selvaraj.