AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes lets rip at rival Malaysia Airlines, accuses carrier of 'harming' travellers

Written by PTI | Kuala Lumpur | Updated: Feb 19 2014, 20:56pm hrs
AirAsiaTony Fernandes bought ailing AirAsia in 2001, quickly turning it around with his no-frills, low-fare formula.
Flamboyant AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes savaged state-backed flag carrier Malaysian Airlines and the nation's aviation authorities today, accusing them of mismanagement that was harming the travelling public.

The budget airline mogul posted the comments on his Twitter feed a day after fierce rival Malaysia Airlines (MAS) announced it had lost a whopping 1.17 billion ringgit (USD 355 million) in 2013.

"AirAsia Allstars, take a bow. Malaysia Airlines lost over a billion," Tony Fernandes tweeted.

"So much money wasted. If people were more efficient Malaysians would spend less on travel."

Tony Fernandes bought ailing AirAsia in 2001, quickly turning it around with his no-frills, low-fare formula.

AirAsia has put severe pressure on inefficient Malaysian Airlines, which analysts say is hampered by poor management, bloated and demanding unions and government interference.

Yesterday, Malaysian Airlines also reported its fourth straight quarterly loss and warned of a "challenging" year ahead.

Malaysian Airlines has bled money in recent years and announced a series of turnaround plans, but the poor earnings have continued.

"I wonder if it's fair that Malaysia Airlines can lose so much money and protect its market share. Can only do that with taxpayers money," Tony Fernandes tweeted.

The outspoken Fernandes also took aim at Malaysian regulators, implying they were seeking to hinder MAS's competition.

"Imagine how many jobs AirAsia could have created if (there was) effective regulation. We have done amazing. Unbelievable. Despite all the roadblocks," he said.

The two airlines briefly buried the hatchet in 2011, when Tony Fernandes agreed to a strategic tie-up aimed at helping to revive struggling Malaysian Airlines.

But the deal was called off just months later, with Tony Fernandes faulting "massive" MAS union resistance to reform and hinting at deep problems in the rival airline.

AirAsia is currently at odds with government-controlled airport operator Malaysian Airport Holdings Berhad over a two-year delay and cost overruns in the construction of a new budget terminal outside the capital Kuala Lumpur.

AirAsia is set to be the main presence at the facility. Its current opening date is May 2 but recent media reports have suggested it may yet be pushed back again.