Airport tax-hike decision took into account domestic passengers

The Transport Ministry’s decision to approve the increase in airport departure tax for international flights after a review which took into account domestic passengers travelling within Sabah and Sarawak, Deputy Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri said yesteray.

He said the tax collected would be used for airports’ development and to provide better facilities for air travellers as only the international airports in Sepang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Penang and Johor Baharu were making a profit.

“I believe it’s only a minor issue as the tax is only charged on international flight passengers, such as Malaysians going abroad and foreigners leaving our airports,” he told reporters after attending a briefing on the upgrading of the Kuching International Airport, which was completed in May.

Abdul Rahim said airport tax at short take-off and landing airports in Limbang, Ba’kelalan and Lahad Datu and bigger airports in Terengganu, Melaka and Langkawi were currently subsidised by the government.

Effective Nov 15, passengers departing from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang and the Terminal 2 Kota Kinabalu International Airport had only to pay an increase of RM7 from RM25 previously but the rates imposed on the country’s five international airports were comparatively lower than that in Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

International travellers flying out of Malaysia now have to pay RM65 instead of RM51 previously compared to 60 pounds or about RM300 from the Heathrow International Airport in London, he said.

On Saturday, budget carrier, AirAsia, launched an online petition with the hope of getting Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd to reverse its decision, arguing that the hike would discourage people from going on holiday and put the tourism industry at a major risk.

However, the airport operator maintained that Malaysia’s airport tax has not been changed since 2002.

By comparison, international passengers departing from Singapore pay S$21 (about RM51) airport tax; Indonesia 150,000 rupiahs (RM53); India 500 rupees (RM30); Thailand 700 bahts (RM71); and Hong Kong HK$120 (RM60).

– Bernama