I REFER to Your Insights dated June 19, 2022 titled The AirAsia X refund conundrum.
Recently, it has been reported that a protest is looming at the AirAsia headquarters as many passengers intent on receiving refunds for their cancelled flights continue to reject offers of vouchers or credit, standing firm on their demand for the budget airline to return their money.
Many passengers struggling with pandemic hardships have urged the airline to empathise with their struggles and refund their money spent on flights that never took off, while others said they were ready to boycott AirAsia over the matter.
Many international passengers have united to demand AirAsia’s refunds after waiting in vain for two years. While some were glad to have received their money back, they expressed disappointment in the airline’s customer service.
They said that credit or vouchers offered in lieu of refunds are of no use to them as there is no AirAsia service at their current locations. They have been left with no other choice as the airline company and authorities seem to be ignoring their complaints.
I hope the loud public outcry over the apparent discrepancies in the airline’s refund policy will send a wake-up call to Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and AirAsia that any unfair and deceptive airline refund policy and practice will not be tolerated anymore by air travel consumers.
As this matter is of great concern to customers and in accordance with section 69(2) of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015, I strongly urge Mavcom to revamp Part III of the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC) 2016, particularly paragraph 12(5), and to scrutinise AirAsia’s refund policy to ensure that the passengers’ rights are well respected and fairly protected.
Paragraph 12(5) of the MACPC 2016 stipulates that an operating airline shall not be obliged to pay compensation if it can prove that the delay or cancellation, as the case may be, is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
Clearly, this provision does not protect the consumers under extraordinary circumstances and in contradiction of section 69(1) Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 which stipulates that the MACPC is specifically prescribed to include requirements on minimum policies and practices, among others, for reasonably meeting consumer requirements and any other matters of concern to consumers.
Considering the public outcry, I suggest that Mavcom reject the assertions that airlines are not required to refund a passenger’s fare when a flight is cancelled under extraordinary circumstances due to the following reasons:
(1) I find it to be manifestly unfair and deceptive for an airline to fail to provide the flight service contracted for and then refuse to provide a refund if the passenger finds the offered rerouting unacceptable and he or she no longer wishes to travel,