Malaysia Mulling Out the Option of an ‘Anti-Terror’ Fee for Air Passengers

Malaysia, security, aviation

According to local Malaysian newspapers, the Malaysian government plans to introduce a new tax to recover the cost of a new security system at airports by next year. The Sun Daily indicated this week that the government is due to introduce a new border management system called the “Advance Passenger Screening System” (APSS).

The new technology is designed to ensure that only passengers who are permitted to enter the country will be allowed to board an aircraft. The System enhances a country’s border security by enabling authorities to check on the following information linked to the passenger prior to its arrival such as:

Checking passport, visa & alerts before passenger boards flight.

Providing Airlines with electronic board directive (Board/Do Not Board).

Providing accurate advance passenger information for profiling to determine if intervention at the border is necessary.

Enabling airlines to use the APS system to provide one set of data to border control agencies.

The measure is being considered in order to protect the country from undesirable elements such as terrorists or radical elements as well as criminals.

Under a new International Civil Aviation Organisation Standard, programmes such as APSS will become mandatory in 2018. At present, some 65 countries worldwide have already introduced similar programmes. However, the APSS is an expensive programme and the government may have to fork out close to RM8 billion (US$195million) over a period of 15 years to an outsourced private company.

Consequently, some newspapers reported that the government is now looking at introducing a new safety tax to cover the costs of the system. According to a report in the Sundaily, Malaysia is planning to charge passengers flying out of the country an additional fee of RM35 (US$8.50) to recover the investment.

The perspective of imposing new taxes on passengers has been of course be vehemently rejected by the aviation industry.

the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), both of whom have expressed strong concern over Malaysia’s plan to introduce a charge for all international passengers arriving and departing Malaysia to cover the cost for the APSS.

The two Aviation bodies said that while they recognise the benefits  the APSS offers in terms of border security and control of external visitors movements, funding for it is a State responsibility as it is linked to border security and intelligence collection.

The two bodies further stated that a majority of countries who used the programme, do not actually charge passengers for it.

The two aviation bodies estimate also that it would adversely affect tourism to the country and Malaysia’s competitiveness as it will make travelling to Malaysia more expensive. Especially following the introduction of a tourist tax on overnight for foreign travellers earlier this summer.