Q&A: MAVCOM gears up efforts to educate people

Question: When was the Malaysian Aviation Commission
(MAVCOM) initiated?

Answer: MAVCOM was established on March 1 last year under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 to regulate economic and commercial matters related to civil aviation in Malaysia.

A brainchild of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, its goal is to promote a commercially viable, consumer-oriented and resilient civil aviation industry, which supports the nation’s economic growth.

What is important is that since independence, there has not been a conscious effort by the government to initiate a commission of this nature until the current administration. Today, Malaysia’s aviation sector is robust and growing steadily. Hence, there is a need to ensure governance, oversight and, most importantly, progress for the future.

Towards this end, the government has ensured that today, there are three branches of
administration to drive the sector forward.

First, the Transport Ministry as the principal policymaker for the aviation industry in Malaysia. It also drives G2G (government-to-government) negotiations for bilateral rights. Second, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) as the technical regulator, oversees safety, maintenance and security.

MAVCOM, as an economic regulator, oversees commercial and economic matters. It acts as an independent adviser to the ministry on economic matters pertaining to civil aviation and also reviews airport charges.

Q: What is MAVCOM’s role and how can the people benefit?

A: MAVCOM has had a fruitful and impactful first year. Never in Malaysia’s history has there been a dedicated legal entity to drive industry growth and champion the rights of the people.

We are pleased to have managed and assisted in solving 1,428 consumer complaints from March to December last year. These complaints ranged from obtaining refunds from airline operators, mishandled baggage, online bookings, flight delays and flight cancellations.

It is worthy to note that there is a good level of consumer rights awareness. However, there is still much room for improvement.

We urge consumers to understand and exercise their rights. In tandem with this, we are also continuously looking into ways and means to work together with aviation service providers to improve the services offered to consumers.

Q: What is the level of awareness among consumers on their aviation rights and how does MAVCOM plan to increase this?

A: There is a healthy level of awareness given that the commission received more than 1,400 cases last year. This shows that consumers are aware there are aviation rights that apply to them and they should practise them.

However, compared with more than 80 million aviation passengers in Malaysia recorded last year, the current level of awareness can be heightened.  Based on an initial survey that we carried out, we found that out of 2,300 respondents, an average of 69 per cent thought they knew their rights. That translates to every seven in 10 air travellers in the country.

Findings also showed that many were under the perception that the terms and conditions set by aviation providers are a representation of their “rights”. Loss of baggage and flight cancellations are the most common situations which passengers face.

There is a strong demand to learn more about passenger rights, with 93 per cent of respondents wanting to know more. Knowing there is a disconnect between the awareness among air travellers and their overall understanding of their rights, MAVCOM has geared up efforts to heighten awareness among passengers.

Among these efforts is the Know Your Rights video, which serves as a public service announcement (PSA). The video provides consumers with information on their rights as air travellers and how to exercise them.

MAVCOM continuously carries out awareness and educational programmes to reach out to passengers on their rights. This includes reminders and notices at airports, infographics and educational articles published in the mainstream media, as well as on the ground activities such as educational videos on the ERL (Express Rail Link) and our presence at the recent MATTA fair.

The overall objective is to let travellers know how they should approach the airlines or airports when faced with issues during their air travels.

Q: How are consumers’ complaints managed or solved by
MAVCOM?

A: We receive complaints from consumers with regard to their attempts to find a solution from the party involved, that is, airline/airport operator, or if the solution provided was not satisfactory.

A dedicated team within the Consumer Affairs Unit assesses each complaint, and complainants will receive an initial response from MAVCOM within seven days.  The situation will be assessed not in favour of the consumer nor the industry players but based on regulations. The commission facilitates the solution process with the parties involved within a period of 30 days.

Q: What are your complaint success rates?

A: From March to December last year, we received more than 1,400 complaints. Ninety per cent of the complaints had been resolved.

On an average, we receive five new complaints daily and our team responds within  seven days of the lodging of the complaint. We would like to empower the people to encourage them to lodge more complaints in order to assist us in creating a more robust and consumer-centric sector.

Q: What is the procedure to obtain an air service licence (ASL) or an air service permit (ASP)?

A: ASLs are issued for journeys with scheduled flights by commercial airlines while ASPs are issued for unscheduled journeys such as for privately owned airplanes.  

Applicants are also required to submit to DCA for an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for their proposed operations and an ASL will only be issued to the applicant who holds a valid AOC issued by DCA.

Applications are assessed by MAVCOM based on a range of criteria, including but not limited to whether the applicant is a company incorporated in Malaysia and is directly under the control of a Malaysian company, as well as the ownership structure of the applicant, demand for air transport in the proposed areas of operation, the experience and competency of the management team of the company, the feasibility of the proposed business plan, the financial viability of the business and the existence of other similar services, their efficiency and regularity in the industry.

An application for an ASL will require a minimum of 90 days to process. The commission will only initiate the evaluation process of an application upon receipt of complete submission together with the prescribed fees. An incomplete application may result in a delay in processing and possible rejection.

In the event where a licence holder fails to comply with any conditions imposed by the commission, MAVCOM has the right to make variations to revoke or suspend the existing licence. MAVCOM may award an ASL for a period of up to 10 years from its date of effect.

Q: How many new ASL/ASP applications have been approved by MAVCOM?

A: MAVCOM has granted 19 ASP renewals and seven ASL renewals since its establishment.

Q: Is MAVCOM encouraging Bumiputera entrepreneurship in the aviation sector?

A: MAVCOM has issued 12 commercial licences to Bumiputera entrepreneurs.

This reflects our commitment to grow the aviation sector together with the people.