Thursday, August 24, 2006

Govt Tells MAS, AirAsia To Cut Flight Delays

PUTRAJAYA -- The government has ordered national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and budget airline AirAsia to take immediate measures to cut flight delays that had occurred frequently over the last three months.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the ministry would also monitor closely the two airlines in the next one or two months to ensure that there was improvement.

The ministry had received many complaints of flight delays from all over the country and the airlines had cited technical problems, the weather, air traffic control and passengers arriving late or not showing up as the reasons, he told reporters after chairing a post-Cabinet meeting at the ministry, here.

"Of course, there are many reasons but the ministry has informed MAS and AirAsia that they have to find ways and means to improve their performance. I want to see less delays all over the country. We are very unhappy with the two airlines," he said.

Chan said that going by the international standard, a delay occurred when a flight exceeded its schedule by 15 minutes, adding that MAS had registered 87 per cent "on time" flights, meaning that the airline had 13 per cent delays.

He said he was informed by AirAsia that its definition of a delay was exceeding the schedule by 30 minutes.

"I am asking now for 15 minutes because that is the international standard. If you go by 30 minutes, AirAsia has 88.03 per cent `on time' flights, meaning the airline has 11.93 per cent delays. But that is 30 minutes. I want 15 minutes. If it goes by 15 minutes, I think the figure would be higher on delays," he said.

Chan said reasons of weather and technical problems that posed a threat to safety were acceptable but matters within control such as air traffic control and passengers arriving late had to be overcome immediately.

"Of course, I have been told that going by the international standard, these figures are good but I am not happy anyway," he said, adding that 87 per cent "on time" flights for domestic and Southeast Asian operations was high and good performance.

"But to me and to the government, I think they can do better. So, we want them to do better. We will monitor them very closely in the next one or two months," he said.

Chan also said that after the rationalisation of the domestic routes on Aug 1, the ministry was monitoring closely all the complaints that have been submitted to it.

"We are monitoring very closely all the problems faced by the passengers, including the business community, and especially those from Sabah and Sarawak where there has been a reduction in flight frequencies on certain routes.

"We also got a lot of appeals from elected representatives from Sabah and Sarawak over the reduction in flight frequencies, which has caused a lot of inconvenience for people in several stations, particularly Labuan, Miri, Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu and Kota Kinabalu," he said.

Chan said the ministry would call a meeting in one or two days to look into all the information that it has gathered on the ground and the complaints that have been submitted to it to ensure improvement.


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