Covid-19: Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia limit number of flights till March 31

Malaysia Airlines will significantly reduce its overall network, following the nationwide movement control order from March 18 to 31. - NORAFIFI EHSAN /The Star.

Malaysia Airlines will significantly reduce its overall network, following the nationwide movement control order from March 18 to 31.

International flights to India are suspended until the end of the month and flights to the Philippines are suspended between March 21 and 31, following the respective governments’ ban on travel to and from Malaysia.

Malaysia Airlines group chief executive officer Captain Izham Ismail said the situation has been “rather fluid” since the airline has had to make last-minute cancellations to abide by the restrictions.

“We are doing our best to re-route passengers via reallocation onto other carriers. We are also adjusting our low-load flights by cancelling and merging them to manage costs while managing our customer expectations, ” he said.

Prior to the order, Malaysia Airlines has suspended services to Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and parts of China (Beijing and Daxing), as well as the Kota Kinabalu-Shanghai route due to border controls.

The carrier also reduced capacity to Australia and New Zealand due to self-isolation policy of the two countries.

To date, the company has cancelled over 4,000 flights.

“Our Global Contact Centre has been at the brunt of this situation with the number of calls peaking at 25,000 daily and up to 2,000 e-mail daily in the past three weeks, ” Izham said.

He added that it will take the company longer to process refunds due to the sheer volume of requests.

“I assure them that we are not here to take advantage of the situation. In fact we are one of few airlines that have offered unlimited flexibility in travel date change and waiver of certain fees, ” Izham said.

Due to the significant capacity cut, Malaysia Airlines and all sister companies under the Malaysia Aviation Group’s back office operations have also been reduced alongside flight and airport operations.

A majority of its workforce globally are working from home in line with various governments’ requirements.

Passengers with bookings may initiate changes online via the Covid-19 waiver assistance form available on the carrier’s website.

Meanwhile, AirAsia has also significantly cut down its number of domestic and international flights.

"AirAsia will be operating a limited number of domestic and international flights from today until 31 March, which are subject to change due to the fluidity of the current situation.

"Affected guests will be promptly notified via email or SMS. AirAsia strongly encourages guests to update their contact details using the “My Bookings” feature on to ensure that they receive timely notifications," the airline said in a statement.

For further and latest information regarding options and eligibility related to COVID-19, AirAsia guests can visit the Covid-19 Customer Guide on its website.

A quick look at their booking page shows that there are only two flights a day from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang (and vice versa). Flights to other cities and towns including Johor Baru, Kota Bharu, Alor Setar, Kuala Terengganu, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu have all been suspended until April 1.

Currently, there is one flight a day to Sandakan, Tawau and Labuan from KL but even these routes may be suspended within the next few days.

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