Disclaimer: This article was sent to Malaysia Gazette by a reader.
THE issues of some disgruntled airlines filing complaints should have been made during the time where these airlines were confronted with the alleged abuse by the authorities.
There is no denying that we have heard about the allegations of abuse by some aviation parties where some of these airlines were said to have paid their way through to get the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) license to operate. This is nothing new amongst the aviation community.
We were told that some airlines got special privileges like protection and renewable of their license if they pay “duit kopi” (coffee money) to some of these top officials.
Some new airline owners were trying their luck to start an airline business as they know the business is lucrative but was difficult to get an approval for these licenses unless they pay some under table money. This abuse was nothing new but it didn’t come from Mavcom back then. The approval came from allegedly, the highest ranking of officers from the Transport Ministry.
If the authorities wish to conduct an investigation on this, they should start off with the approving authorities of the AOC and Air Service Licence (ASL). Both these licenses are crucial before the airline could conduct their business.
We received some information on this matter a long while ago and if there is a need to do a total clean-up of these unhealthy habits, then the authorities should start now by checking on this few tips.
There are some parties today waiting for the approvals for their licenses through normal procedures but it is a long wait. They could lose the confidence of their funders whom may have committed to help them to fund their airlines. These owners normally do not have sufficient funds as a license could easily cost RM50 million. Some had to rely on overseas funders to fund their airlines. That’s why some funders bailed out due to the long wait or if they do not have enough of coffee money.
These airline owners have to go through a series of processes in applying for the licenses as it’s a tedious work process to go through.
Part of these processes are to form a company with names of directors and employees they intend to employ for their airline. The process of applying for the AOC license is lengthy and therefore some of these owners want it quick by paying their way through.
Some airlines won’t even get their approval after years of submission to the aviation authority unless they pay some kind of token.
For these airlines to come forward now to file a complaint is just not right and seen as a retaliation against Mavcom, who is stricter in approving these licences. Mavcom also revokes these licenses if there were complaints on these airlines. We know of one whose license was revoked because it did not pay their staffs’ salaries and passengers refunds.
We were surprised that the airline did not file their complaints back then as they too used some higher authorities in the government to get approval of these licenses. So why not complain to MACC back then or is it because they were also involved in “paying” some people back then?
Their complaints should have been placed on records with MACC if they themselves are clean too. So what’s the fuss of complaining now?
By doing so, it looked as if they are trying to retaliate and smear Mavcom and make the authority look bad. Mavcom may be seen as the authority body for these licenses but the actual approvals and authority came from the Minister and his troops of aviation Directors.
Some airline owners were also known to have rubbed shoulders with these directors at golf course sessions. We know of one case where an airline license was approved during a golf tournament with the officials. Whether that is a coincidence, it’s something the authorities need to check.
Some of these airlines owners can walk into the director’s office anytime as these directors were also their flying mates. Some of them were former commercial airline pilots who used to attach with these airlines but now they are working for the authorities.
Today, these few ‘untouchable airlines” are flying without problems or hassle by the authorities because they paid their protection money.
It’s time the Ministry of Transport start looking deeper at ways to curb this ‘pay and see culture’.
It’s a worrying trend amongst the aviation people where some cash rich airlines could afford to pay and even control the aviation authorities.