MATTA: Malaysia Airlines not here to ‘please a minority’

PETALING JAYA: The country’s main travel association says Malaysia Airlines Bhd should offer Riduan Mohd Nor a complimentary flight ticket so that the PAS leader can see for himself whether the behaviour of airplane passengers is comparable to that of nightclub patrons.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) was responding to the PAS arts and culture bureau chief, who repeated calls yesterday for the airline to stop serving alcohol on its flights.

Riduan, who is also a PAS central committee member, said a ban on liquor would be a lesson to passengers that planes are not entertainment centres or nightclubs where they can do as they please.

He had said this in response to Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who stated in a written reply in Parliament that the government would let airline companies decide on the matter.

In a statement today, MATTA president Tan Kok Liang said Malaysia Airlines had stopped serving alcohol on flights shorter than three hours since Jan 1 last year.

“On long-haul flights, Malaysia Airlines has a broader profile of customers and to cater to this profile, alcoholic beverages will continue to be served to passengers who request it,” he said.

“As such, it should operate without interference by the government, least of all from a political party.
“Malaysia Airlines is also our flag carrier, engaging with the world and not out to please a minority,” he added.

Tan also hit out at Riduan’s comparison between planes and nightclubs, saying that at both locations neither patrons nor passengers are free to do anything they want.

“Those who run airlines are professionals and place passenger safety above all else,” he said.

“Passengers who are a threat to others will be apprehended and face legal action, regardless of whether they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or have mental health issues.

“It is time for the airline to offer Riduan Mohd Nor a complimentary air ticket to see for himself whether the plane is an entertainment outlet and passengers ‘free to do what they want’ or otherwise,” he said, adding that MATTA volunteered to host the ground arrangements should Riduan take up the offer.

In June, PAS had called for the government to remove alcoholic drinks from the menu of Malaysia Airlines flights after a disruptive passenger, said to be drunk, caused flight MH128 from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur to turn back to the Australian city.

PAS Youth deputy chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said Putrajaya should emulate Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and Bahrain which are more stringent on the issue.

Ahmad Fadhli said a ban on serving alcohol on Malaysia Airlines flights would bring “blessings” as alcohol was damned in Islam.

“As a nation led by a Muslim prime minister, now is the time to make changes if we truly want to change,” he said.