AirAsia customers during the recent Hari Raya period have had to suffer through numerous delayed and rescheduled flights. The embattled airliner responds.
You’ve probably heard about or even directly experienced the chaotic scene at airports recently caused by Malaysia’s (least?) favourite low-cost carrier. Many flights over the course of the festive period experienced disruption, leading to delays and rescheduled flights that completely ruined carefully laid plans and kept families apart.
In the aftermath, AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat pointed to several factors and unavoidable incidents that were identified as the root cause of this blunder that were “beyond the airline’s expectations and control”.
In a statement released on May 10th, he said: “We tried our best to ensure minimum impact to all guests and ensure that everyone can arrive at their respective destinations soonest possible and this included the launch of special flights to carry stranded passengers,”
“AirAsia Malaysia is now operating with only 40 planes compared to almost 100 pre-pandemic.
“This is due to the long wait for aircraft maintenance facilities in Malaysia and the region before an aircraft that had not been in operation for a while can be declared safe to fly again, as directed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia,” he said.
The sharp rise in demand for domestic flights were also attributed as a leading cause, compounded by the country’s border reopening on April 1st.
Apart from this, other more common causes for routine damages and technical issues were also cited in the list of reasons, such as those caused by bird strikes and foreign objects impacting the aircraft, even lightning strikes.
The airline’s chief executive for Malaysia added that it is now AirAsia’s priority to minimise flight cancellations and ensure that passengers reach their destinations promptly and safely.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Bandar Kuching MP Dr. Kelvin Yii has urged the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) to penalise AirAsia over the disruption:
“While safety and security of the planes and passengers are of utmost importance, the company should have anticipated this and if they are aware that they have insufficient planes, they should not have opened up for all those tickets to be sold to the public.
“If they knowingly know they cannot meet their demand, they should not have allowed the tickets to be sold which ended up causing so much inconvenience, delay and even economic loss to the public,” he said, pointing to a complaint he received about how an AirAsia customer received an SMS notification informing him of a flight reschedule just minutes after the (expensive) online booking was made.
“Mind you, the flight was in two weeks’ time and they already know it will be delayed with two more weeks to go. If they can foresee the problem, why sell those tickets in the first place? Customers do not just suffer the loss of that flight, but many have other connecting flights with other airlines which had to be changed due to changes in the AirAsia flight schedule,”
“That is why Mavcom must hold the airlines accountable for this. Necessary action must be taken and Mavcom must be more proactive in taking action and not allow this to happen, as this problem has been happening since April. I reiterate my call yesterday for quick action upon the matter as well as a long-term policy in place to ensure that this does not happen and airlines are kept accountable towards their set schedule,” he added.
Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi also said that investigations are ongoing by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs “to resolve this issue and ensure it does not continue,” urging consumers to exercise their right to claim compensation in the form of meals, phone calls, and internet access, or in certain cases, hotel accommodation and transportation, a full refund or alternative flight.