When flights are few airlines must take responsibility

THERE are currently limited flights scheduled for international destinations, and they are catering mainly to foreigners who have finished their periods of service and are returning home.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government has started an amnesty programme for foreigners with expired documents, expired visas and other offences. Many foreigners have chosen to register for the amnesty programme, under which they will be required to pay a compound to the Immigration Department along with producing a valid flight ticket reservation valid for a period of 14 days from the payment date.

Many have purchased their AirAsia flight tickets, especially to Indonesia. The airline, in its corporate website, advertises advance sales of tickets. When an airline cancels a flight at the very last minute the standard practice is to provide passengers with the option of credit shelf or free change of date within the timeframe stipulated by the airline.

Many of these foreigners who have paid the amnesty fee and were getting prepared to leave the country suddenly found their flights cancelled were caught in limbo. Flight cancellations are no fault of the passengers. Therefore, the airline should reschedule a cancelled flight to another date and provide an option of credit shelf or date change for free – not just cancel without taking responsibility.

Mavcom (The Malaysian Aviation Commission) should monitor the situation and not just sit in their air-conditioned rooms, expecting the public to write in and complain against the airlines. Instead, it should be taking action against the airline. There should be clear directive on the online advertisement by the airline and Mavcom personnel should be stationed at the airport to take stock of the impact of the airline’s decision to cancel flights on the passengers.

Even as Hari Raya is approaching and many foreigners are desperate to return home, we expect many more cancellations from the airline – without rescheduling. Thus Mavcom urgently needs to weigh in the liability passengers have to shoulder when their flights are cancelled. – April 19, 2021.

* Marsha Sarah Mathews reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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