Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MAS terminates travel privileges for AirAsia CEO - Tony Fernandes

The war of words between AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines seems to have moved to a personal level with the latter terminating discount benefits for the former's group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.

In a letter dated May 28, MAS managing director Datuk Seri Idris Jala said the MAS management team had decided it was “best to withdraw” Fernandes' travel privileges following protest letters from many MAS staff.

“I thought I should let you know that there have been numerous complaints from MAS staffers questioning the special privileges granted to you since 2006.

“Many of them feel hurt and frustrated with what they read in the news ... in the wake of your various negative statements about Malaysia Airlines,” he said in the letter.

Fernandes said he had been enjoying 50% discounts for first/business class and 75% for economy class. He said he never used the 75% discount as it was only for domestic routes which he flew on AirAsia.

When contacted, Fernandes said he felt surprised when he received the letter “about three weeks ago”.

He explained that discounted or free seats were a courtesy offered to fellow airline chief executive officers and this was practised even between the “bitterest of enemies”.

“We also offer free seats to Idris, but he’s never taken up the offer,” he said. That offer to Idris, he said, would not be withdrawn.

Asked if he was offended by MAS’ withdrawal, he replied: “No, just a little disappointed.”

“I never complained when MAS launched its free fares promotion. It is nothing personal and I will continue to ask for a level playing field.”

“I'd like to say that MAS has the best crew and I've always been treated warmly by MAS staff. They have always paid me utmost compliments on what we’ve done with AirAsia.

“I’ve always preferred to fly with MAS but I guess all good things must come to an end,” he said.

He said he received 75% discounts from Cathay Pacific and Qantas Airlines, and flew free with Virgin Airlines.

MAS confirmed this move.

“We've provided the travel privilege out of goodwill since 2006 in response to Tony’s request for interline facility for his own travel on our international routes although AirAsia does not have an interline agreement with Malaysia Airlines,” Idris said.

The statement added that according to industry practice, “only airlines with interlining agreements will consider granting such travel privileges for airline employees”.

Source : STAR
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