The Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) says it has decided to stagger the impending 1,000% increase in air navigation flight charges following stiff resistance from local carriers.

Minister of Transport, Liow Tiong Lai, told a press conference this week that instead of a single incremental jump which was to have taken place on April 15, the hike will now be gradually introduced over an undefined period. Existing fee rates were last reviewed back in 1970.

According to AIN Online, under the revised rates, light aircraft up to the ATR72 will incur charges of USD0.125 per nautical mile, while narrowbody jets, such as the A320 and B737, and widebodies, such as the A330 and B777, will see an increase from between USD0.025 cents and USD0.065 cents to between USD0.25 cents and USD0.625 cents. The rates for the A380-800 will jump from USD0.75 to USD7.50 per nautical mile.

DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman has justified the increase as necessary in order to transform the department into a proper authority that is financially self-sufficient. Azharuddin says that the DCA requires MYR250 million (USD64.7 million) annually to regulate Malaysian airspace, but only makes MYR50 million (USD12.9 million) in revenue, leaving a shortfall of MYR200 million (MYR51.7 million) that it has to seek from the Ministry of Finance.

The proposed increase recently precipitated the formation of the Association of Malaysian Air Carriers (AMAC) whose founding membership includes: Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int'l), MASwings (MY, Kota Kinabalu); Firefly (FY, Penang); AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int'l); AirAsia X (D7, Kuala Lumpur Int'l); Malindo Air (OD, Kuala Lumpur Int'l); and Berjaya Air (J8, Kuala Lumpur Subang). AMAC will represent common industry interests among institutions such as the Ministry of Transport, Department of Civil Aviation and the Malaysian Aviation Commission.