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Is MAHB really trying to sabo Airasia?

When we heard 18 Airasia (AA) buntings were stolen from their check-in counters in KLIA2, we assumed it was another genius marketing ploy by Uncle Tony, but it wasn’t. Could this mean that the RM4billion airport is unsafe? Or was this an inside job? Our resident conspiracy theorist wannabe went undercover on Google search to read between the lines to see if Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is really out to get them.

Our suspicion began on May 19 when Tony tweeted this:


A week later The Star reported that AA’s buntings were stolen. Surely an expensive hi-tech facility will have tons of CCTVs, especially at the check-in counters. Could Tony be right when he expressed concerns on safety issues of the terminal? Or did MAHB simply “confiscate” it as reported here. We take a look at 4 main key issues in this lover’s tiff.

1. Financial mismanagement of KLIA2


Team Tony says

MAHB evading real issues of costs overruns and not managing their finances responsibly to bring down airport taxes.
(AirAsia chief renews Twitter attack on ‘Kings of spin’ MAHB – The Malay Mail Online)

Team MAHB responds

MAHB’s financial performance has been showing consistent profits yearly since its incorporation 22 years ago and that AirAsia has been a beneficiary of its strong financial performance, having received the most incentives over the last 10 years. This was despite AA not being the airline that contributed the highest number of passengers or revenue.
(MAHB rubbishes AirAsia chief’s comments – The Sun Daily)

Last word: Team Tony

  • “The incentives given to our airline were well deserved as AirAsia had spearheaded growth in the local airline industry.” – Tony
  • “Of course we got incentives to develop routes. It was a growth incentive. We got the most because we grew at incredible rates. But it’s tiny compared to what MAHB earned” – Tony

(AirAsia chief renews Twitter attack on ‘Kings of spin’ MAHB – The Malay Mail Online)


2. AA wanted a museum and spa, delays move to KLIA2


Team MAHB says

MAHB could not grant AA’s wish list of having a spa and museum, and hinted that AA’s intended delay was because they merajuk.

(MAHB: KLIA2 has everything AirAsia asked for, except for spa and museum – The Star)

Team Tony responds


  • “I have seen many funny stories, but this takes the cake. A museum and a spa. Aware of the museum. An idea to get kids interested in aviation. Spa not aware.” – Tony.
  • “But the main point is we wanted a low cost terminal and safe and secure terminal. All we wanted was a terminal which would make it cheap for consumers and on time. MAHB HAVE FAILED ON BOTH,” – Tony.

(AirAsia boss says klia2 delay for thorough checks, adds MAHB failed to keep costs down – The Malaysian Insider)

Last word: Team Tony


Tony got an extra boost when Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed stepped in and said AirAsia has valid reasons to complain about the move to KLIA2.


“They do have valid reasons to be concerned. Action should be taken by MAHB to address the grouses of their main customer. Some 80% of the planes now in KLIA and LCCT belong to AirAsia,” – Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed. (AirAsia’s complaints valid over klia2 move – The Sun Daily)


3. Who bully who?


Team Tony says

AA claimed they were bullied by not been given much support. More importantly, concerns over the safety issues and poor workmanship weren’t properly addressed.
(AirAsia boss tweets of more hiccups at klia2 – The Malaysian Insider)

Soft wood used in the resurfacing of the bitumen at klia2 is just one of the many problems at the new budget airport terminal. – The Malaysian Insider pic, May 20, 2014.


Depression at Q11 that occurred when aircraft was parked there. The area is now closed. – The Malaysian Insider pic, May 20, 2014.


Team MAHB responds

  • MAHB said the airport flight operation team was assigned to sit down with AA’s team to guide and advise it on a gate allocation system, which was new when it moved to KLIA2.
  • MAHB lent its staff and solicited for third-party resources to help AA with its manpower and equipment shortage to handle baggage arrivals during its first few days at KLIA2.
  • With this help, AA had stabilised the baggage delivery to be within a reasonable time frame for its passengers.
    (MAHB helped AirAsia move – New Straits Times)



Last word: Team MAHB

It is possible that  Tan Sri Tony Fernandes was not briefed by his operational team and was not aware of the support that Malaysia Airports had provided to his team in calling Malaysia Airports a ‘bully’.
(MAHB helped AirAsia move – New Straits Times)


We noticed that MAHB was quick to respond on being called a bully but no so quick to address the safety issues. Also, this tweet from Saifuddin Abdullah (former MP, senior UMNO member, and Deputy Minister for Higher Education) supporting Tony’s claims. Also also, what is a “willy dilly”?!

OMG 4 arguments used by Najib's supporters on social media! [Update]


4. Uncle Tony manyak bising

Why ONLY AirAsia complains  why are the other airlines quiet   MAHB

Team MAHB says

“There are nine airlines operating from KLIA2, why isn’t anyone else complaining besides AirAsia? We have daily meetings with all the airlines, and address all the issues that are brought up. We try to settle them the best we can” – MAHB Ops. Services Sr. General Manager Datuk Azmi Murad.

Team Tony responds

  • AA complained because of possible safety hazard due to poor workmanship on airport facilities and soil settlement around tarmac areas.
  • AA was not allowed to use their own check-in systems, had to use KLIA2’s SITA  check-in system (that may not be fully operational as yet).

spoiled sita

  • AA had to use chargeable mandatory facilities e.g. Sita check-in, departure gate systems, and aerobridges.  MAHB claimed the cost for usage of check-in and aerobridge is RM1.37 per passenger but AA claims the actual cost is above RM5 and will only charge RM3 per passenger. (Come clean over klia2 fee – New Straits Times)
  • Not allowed to display branding or possibly, limited areas to display branding. Buntings kena rampas curi.



Last word: Team MAHB

MAHB Ops. Services Sr. General Manager Datuk Azmi Murad responded with these gems:

  • Safety – “We are compliant with all international safety requirements and we are a responsible airport operator. It is normal for any airport to have some soil settlement on the land once it is in operations. We have 39 airports in the region, the settlement that is happening in KLIA2 is normal.”
  • SITA – “We want to standardise the facilities for all our passenger, so say if one of the counters cannot be used, the airlines and the passengers can just use another one.”
  • Branding limitations – “We do allow them to put up their own bunting and banners, but with certain restrictions… This is to make sure the terminal does not get too cluttered or messy.”

(Why ONLY AirAsia complains, why are the other airlines quiet – Malaysia Chronicle)


So, is MAHB really trying to sabo Airasia?

Well it’s a no for now, because we foresee this to be an ongoing saga. Plus what motive will MAHB have to sabo one of their biggest and profitable “tenants”.


But what is apparent is there’s a clash of cultures and work ethics. Uncle Tony’s rockstar methods may seem brash against MAHB’s conventional ways.



So who wins this battle?

Us, the consumers. Think of us as a child being pampered by parents. If MAHB gets pushed to a corner, they may lower charges and increase benefits. This is important because if MAHB piles on additional charges or costs on Passenger Service Charge (formerly known as Airport Tax), consumers will have to pay the additional on top of their flight tickets. Initially KLIA2 had planned to charge RM65 per passenger, whereas LCCT charged RM32, meaning not everyone can fly.


If Uncle Tony wants to prove he has the biggest wings in the bird coop, he’ll just throw another sale or free-seat promos. Win-win for all.  Are we really on the winning side, since the RM4billion came from our hard-earned tax dollars… We’ll let you be the judge.

Jokes aside, how do we solve this issue?

We feel the best solution for now, is to discuss this behind close doors. Mud-slinging in the media and public shaming only creates more miscommunication and a dent in their public image. The consumers could lose trust in MAHB’s credibility and AA’s integrity. Also don’t la take people’s buntings… and if you know someone took it then don’t la make dramatic media reports. A lil’ face-to face chat with all the cards on the table and a signed agreement at the end is the mature thing to do. No Twitter wars, unless one party breaks the agreement.  It’s pretty simple, AA and MAHB just need to have a sit down makan with some kickass biryani, and have a heart-to-heart talk over some hot teh tarik. Settle!


We would like to suggest to Uncle Tony, to get a phone with a bigger keypad. We had to comb through Tweet-by-Tweet for research of this article and the amount of typos is cute. But can’t blame the fella, thumbs sore from counting money and playing Fife




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