Covid-19: Full refund for cancelled flights is 'matter of principle', says Matta

Airlines have been urged to provide refunds for cancelled flights due to Covid-19 restrictions. - AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

Offering full refunds for cancelled flight tickets should be a convention among airlines, says the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta).

"It is a matter of principle to provide refunds for cancelled air tickets as most services are still not rendered due to the extraordinary situation, ” said Matta vice president (Air Transportation) Shazli Affuat Ghazali.

He was commenting on the recent demand made by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) for airlines to issue full refunds on flight tickets cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mavcom said airlines should provide refund to the affected consumers the amount equivalent to the cost of the ticket at the time of purchase including taxes, charges and fees prescribed under any written law and charges for optional services.

“Airlines are to exercise the principles of reasonableness and fairness in determining the manner of refund that is provided to the affected consumers," the regulator said in a recent statement.

Shazli said airlines must cooperate and accommodate the requests by consumers as best as they can.

“Earlier on, we had already foreseen the problem and hardship that affected consumers due to the ongoing pandemic and the unprecedented circumstances that have risen from limitations to air travel.

"We are firm that taking deposits for future services and the inability to provide refunds for the consumers is not prudent financial management despite the adverse conditions of the aviation sector," he said.

Shazli added the matter of refunds should be resolved to boost consumer sentiments to travel again once it's safe to do so.

"It may also affect consumer’s confidence in travelling throughout these uncertain times, which is something that the airlines must bear in mind once they are able to fully render their services again, ” he said.

According to Mavcom, airlines have been accommodating requests for refunds by affected consumers.

It also encouraged all airlines to continue their best efforts to issue these refunds.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines will introduce a Digital Travel Health Pass for safer air travel in a post-pandemic environment.

The pass, which incorporates some modules of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass, will enable passengers to create a digital passport on the national carrier's mobile app.

"This digital identification on the app will pave the way for Malaysia Airlines’ passengers to eventually take advantage of contactless technology options throughout the travel processes," the carrier said in a statement.

Through the pass, passengers will be able to verify their vaccination requirements and share their health status with the relevant authorities.
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