By Jahabar Sadiq
KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — Budget carrier AirAsia has stopped sending its planes for servicing at Malaysia Airlines (MAS) facilities since yesterday, effectively terminating all joint-venture agreements with the national airline, sources said.
Industry sources said Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier will resume sending all planes in its Airbus fleet to Singapore, citing safety fears with non-co-operation from MAS staff who scuttled an earlier share-swap deal.
“AirAsia has already stopped sending its aircraft from yesterday because there is no co-operation from MAS staffers,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.
The Malaysian Insider understands that MAS employees are upset with the attractive fees given to AirAsia as their charges are among the lowest in the region.
“This is a blow for MAS as it could do with the extra business, no matter the fees,” another source said.
But, he said, the move seemed inevitable since both airlines unravelled their share swap last May.
“This is inevitable considering the bad blood between both carriers. All AirAsia staff who joined MAS have left,” he added.
The Business Times today quoted a source as saying that AirAsia decided at a board meeting last week to terminate its agreements with the national airline.
But AirAsia group chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Tony Fernandes declined comment when queried through text messages, while calls and text messages to AirAsia Malaysia CEO Aireen Omar went unanswered, the paper said.
It also said that MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya did not respond to a text message to him.
Terminating the memorandum of understandings (MoUs) between AirAsia and MAS would effectively wipe out the remnants of a deal dubbed the Comprehensive Collaborative Framework (CCF) between Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Tune Air Sdn Bhd signed on August 9, 2011.
In that cashless deal, state asset manager Khazanah and Fernandes’ Tune Air agreed to swap shares in MAS and AirAsia respectively, to facilitate a collaboration between the two carriers ahead of the ASEAN open skies policy.
But agitation by MAS employees and several politicians forced Putrajaya to cancel the deal last May 2.
However, both airlines agreed on a supplemental agreement to salvage the initial collaboration plans, with two MoUs to focus on the setting up of a joint-venture company to provide aircraft component maintenance support and repair services while another was to set up a special purpose vehicle by MAS, AirAsia and AirAsia X to improve value for money and to increase competitiveness through procurement synergies.
The agreements between AirAsia and MAS allow for a termination by mutual agreement anytime within a six-month period from the date of the signing although it will not release a lock-up period of six months that disallows both parties from talking to, negotiating or co-operating with any other parties, said the paper.