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AirAsia hits back at aviation regulator after it files police report over Tony Fernandes' claim

KUALA LUMPUR — Low-cost carrier AirAsia on Tuesday (May 15) claimed it can refute a denial by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) that it pressured Tony Fernandes to cancel additional flights to enable Malaysian voters to travel home and vote in the 14th general election.

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes apologises for succumbing to political pressure in his support for BN during the GE14 campaign in this screenshot taken from his Facebook video.

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes apologises for succumbing to political pressure in his support for BN during the GE14 campaign in this screenshot taken from his Facebook video.

KUALA LUMPUR — Low-cost carrier AirAsia on Tuesday (May 15) claimed it can refute a denial by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) that it pressured Tony Fernandes to cancel additional flights to enable Malaysian voters to travel home and vote in the 14th general election.

This came after Mavcom lodged a police report against the AirAsia boss over his claims that the agency tried to force him to end the offer and withdraw the fixed-fare flights.

"Mavcom has never issued any directive to AirAsia or any other airline to reduce or cancel any flights where regulatory requirements are met," it said in a statement on Tuesday (May 15), calling Mr Fernandes’ accusations "baseless and malicious".

AirAsia hit back shortly afterwards.

"AirAsia strongly refutes the police report lodged by the Malaysian Aviation Commission against AirAsia Group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes," the budget carrier said in a statement.

“We would like to emphasise that the video released by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes on May 13, 2018 is fully supported by evidences and facts including direct communication between AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat and executive chairman of Mavcom, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad,” it added.

“We will divulge the evidences and facts to the appropriate authorities at the right time.”

The airline said it would cooperate fully with any police investigation against it, but said it would use all legal avenues available to protect its interests and that of Mr Fernandes.

AirAsia was among the first firms to come up with offers for Malaysian voters after the Election Commission set polling for the election on May 9, a Wednesday.

But Mr Fernandes controversially appeared in a video openly supporting Barisan Nasional (BN) just ahead of Polling Day, leading Malaysians to deride him mercilessly over the move.

Mr Fernandes put out a video on Sunday to admit that he “buckled” under pressure from the defeated BN, but claimed he was compelled to do so to protect his airline as he alleged had been told by Mavcom to discontinue the offers.

The 120 extra flights would have carried 26,000 people on top of normal flights at reduced ticket prices.

"Within 24 hours, we were summoned by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and told to cancel all those flights," he claimed.

Response to his confession has been mixed, with some expressing sympathy, while others insisting that Mr Fernandes was simply trying to make amends for a failed political bet.

In denying Mr Fernandes’ allegations on Tuesday, Mavcom said that it approved all additional flights requested by AirAsia and said Mr Abdullah contacted the airline simply to confirm that it had passengers for those flights. AGENCIES

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