The industry of civil aviation in Malaysia had always been facing numerous difficulties and challenges. Problems such as the financial status of the airlines or aircraft operators, market structure, competition between industry players and the overall experience for passengers saw the need for an autonomous civil aviation authority to be established, to play a role in overseeing business and financial matters pertaining to the Malaysian civil aviation industry. The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) which was founded on the basis of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015, was thus formally established on 1 March 2016, in order to achieve the above purpose.
In the days before MAVCOM, Malaysia lacked a federal authority to supervise and also focus more on the rights of consumers, which were not provided a protection mechanism for back then. Organizations such as the Rural Air Services (RAS) were only focused on the matters of aviation providers and little to none on the consumers of civil aviation. Consumers who were facing issues in air travelling had only one vessel to voice their grievance or dissatisfaction, and that is through the internal structure of aviation providers. With the establishment of MAVCOM, consumers now have a platform to report against the problems of services provided by aviation providers.
MAVCOM’s main role is to play an economic regulator in the civil aviation industry, ensuring that each branch of the industry operates accordingly with efficiency. MAVCOM oversees that all stakeholders of the civil aviation industry each work according to their parts cooperatively to create an economically feasible, strong and consumer-oriented aviation industry which can encourage the economic growth of Malaysia.
Additionally, the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC) 2016 is introduced by the MAVCOM as a protection regulation for consumers of the civil aviation industry. The MACPC sets out to enforce the travel rights of consumers and to educate them about their basic entitlements, meanwhile creating accountability for airlines and airport service providers, holding them responsible for the quality of their services.
Another recent development made by the MAVCOM is the introduction of the the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) rates (previously known as the Airport Tax) in October 2016. MAVCOM requires that all airports improve their overall standards, particularly in the services provided, to comply with international standards. The new rates are implemented on airline operators starting on 1 January 2017, bringing a large step forward in providing an equal platform for all aviation providers in Malaysia, enforcing fair competition for all.
Despite all of the above, there are still a lot to be discussed on whether MAVCOM has indeed provided an adequate protection mechanism towards consumers of air travel in Malaysia. This paper aims to discuss a few factors of how protection is provided to consumers of the civil aviation industry, such as in areas of function, membership, jurisdiction, complaints and damages, and shall provide in the conclusion of the answer on whether the said protection is adequate.
Since its establishment, MAVCOM has been working cooperatively with civil aviation providers to achieve a standard on how to improve service levels and how the aviation providers can strive better within the civil aviation industry. Based on statistics which shows that 99% of the 2600 complaints filed by consumers in 2017 has been resolved by MAVCOM, it is safe to say that the Malaysian Aviation Commission has proven itself to be a highly effective and resilient agency in matters of civil aviation, fulfilling its very important role of safeguarding the rights of consumers.
With the establishment of MAVCOM, the Malaysian aviation sector is already in a position to evolve into a higher poise than it is now. The civil aviation industry of Malaysia is seen to be one of the fastest progressing industries in ASEAN, acceding international standards. Although there is still room to grow further, it is obvious that the efforts of MAVCOM are already in the right path of launching the civil aviation sector and the protection of its consumers to an even advanced level, and thus it can be concluded that the protection provided by the current law enforced through MAVCOM is definitely adequate for the Malaysian consumers.