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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Malindo Air: Tony Pua got it all wrong

The new low cost airline was not launched by the prime minister prior to receiving an aviation license as alleged by Tony Pua, says Malindo Air.
PETALING JAYA: New low-cost airline Malindo Air has come out in the open to deny any “extraordinary” links with the prime minister and the government in its operations, amid accusations of corruption and cronyism by the DAP.
DAP’s publicity chief Tony Pua said Najib Tun Razak had launched the airline on Sept 12 last year, months before its aviation license was approved on Feb 28.
“This has given us even more concrete evidence that Malindo Air was given extraordinary support from the prime minister himself, to the point that its other flaws were overlooked,” Pua had told reporters earlier this month.
But in rebutting Pua’s arguments, an officer from Malindo Air stressed that there had been no launch of the airline prior to the issuance of an aviation license.
“What Pua says is completely incorrect. The prime minister was guest-of-honour at a signing ceremony on Sept 12, 2012, where Indonesia’s PT Lion Group and Malaysia’s National Defence Industries (Nadi) signed a joint-venture agreement to establish Malindo Air,” public relations and communications officer Raja Sa’adi Raja Amrin told FMT in an interview.
Raja Sa’adi explained that the purpose of the event was to publicise the signing of the joint-venture agreement and to disclose their intention in establishing an airline in Malaysia.
“We could have waited until after the issuance of the operator certificate (AOC)…to announce our intention… But by making the disclosure in September, it meant that the matter was in public domain.
“In other words, news organisations had more than five months to analyse, debate and discuss the merits of Malaysia having a new airline that promises to create more jobs and opportunities for Malaysians.”
He said the airline understood that the launch of Malindo Air itself was still subject to approval and issuance of the AOC by Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
Raja Sa’adi also rubbished Pua’s argument that Malindo Air was in an unstable financial position and thus undeserving of the aviation license.
He said that while Pua was accurate in stating the airline’s paid-up capital was only RM1 million, he stressed that they currently had a “very strong financial backing”.
All local, fully trained pilots
He also allayed fears that the pilots of Malindo Air were unprofessional, stressing that all were Malaysians and formerly employed with local airlines such as Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia and Firefly.
“Even though PT Lion Group is an Indonesian company, none of our pilots are from Indonesia. They are all Malaysians and fully trained. They are regulated by Malaysia’s DCA and have nothing to do with PT Lion Group,” he assured.
Pua had previously brought up the issue of a Lion Air airplane crash in Bali in April, and that many of their pilots were arrested for drug use. The Indonesian airline has also been banned in the European Union.
Lion Air is a subsidiary of PT Lion Group, which co-owns Malindo Air.
But Raja Sa’adi stressed yesterday that Lion Air and Malindo Air were two completely independent air lines and managed by separate teams.
“Our management team is made up of experienced individuals formerly with Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia and Firefly,” he said.
He also pointed out that nearly all Indonesian airlines were banned from European air space.
“The reason is not because of the airlines, but rather the European Union has issues with Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) with regards to the DGCA’s ability to provide proper regulatory oversight.”

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