LETTER | I refer to the news dated June 28 titled “MAVCOM to enhance consumer protection code”.
When asked regarding the refund by AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) for flights affected by the pandemic, the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) executive chairperson Saripuddin Kasim said that Mavcom’s stance that AirAsia should not include consumer refund in its restructuring plan.
However, the commission needs to follow the court’s order on this matter.
“Mavcom’s stance is clear, the refund shouldn’t be part of the restructuring but we have to abide by the court order.
“The court decided that the refund is part of the restructuring. We hope the public understands our stance,” he said.
In truth, it is the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC) 2016 particularly Paragraphs 7A (1) and 12(5) which fails to protect consumers’ rights and instead protects the airlines even after its amendment in 2019.
In fact, it is the root cause of the public outcry over the apparent discrepancies in AAX’s refund policy under unprecedented circumstances.
That’s why Mavcom has been often described as “toothless” for failing to act against AAX and instead allowing the company to ignore the rights of consumers. This is wrong, AirAsia should return its passengers’ money.
If we look at AirAsia, its sales in advance amount to RM895 million. But its cash totals RM400 million, while total receivables and pre-payments stand at a huge RM4.15 billion. It can easily afford to repay its customers immediately instead of dithering on payment.
It may not necessarily be accurate for AAX to maintain they cannot afford to pay – even so, they need to explain where the money went when it was an advance payment made for a very specific purpose.
Two years ago, I booked an AAX flight scheduled to depart from Kuala Lumpur to Perth on Aug 16, 2020. However, the flight was cancelled by AAX on July 11, 2020, due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
On the next day, AAX then decided to issue a credit account without offering an option for a refund.
Under such a situation, it is deceptive for AAX to even thank the passengers for choosing and accepting travel credits and also for Mavcom to use this ground conveniently to close the passengers’ complaint cases when there was no refund option in the first place.
The truth is that all the passengers wanted a refund and not by way of credits or vouchers.
Obviously, AAX’s stand on refund by way of issuing credits or vouchers is grossly unfair and misleading and needs clarification as all local and international passengers whose cases were considered resolved by AAX are still demanding a refund from AAX.
I then lodged a complaint to Mavcom repeatedly on June 23, 2020, June 26, 2020, July 6, 2020, and finally on July 15, 2021, regarding AAX’s rejection of my request for a refund.
To my surprise and great disappointment, Mavcom also rejected and closed all my cases even before the court order, and asked me to deal directly with AAX…