Airlines reviewing flights due to restrictions, weak demand


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 20 Feb 2020

Plans in review: Malaysia Airlines is making necessary adjustments to its flight capacity in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

PETALING JAYA: Owing to the Covid-19 epidemic, fewer passengers are travelling abroad these days, leading to some airlines reviewing their flights.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS), for one, said it was reviewing the capacity of its flights and would make the necessary adjustments because of fears arising from the Covid-19 outbreak.

The national carrier said it had been experiencing softening demand across its network, especially to and from China over the past three weeks.

“Hence we are proactively reducing capacity based on demand. Similarly, like any other companies impacted by this situation, we have initiated counter measures to manage our costs.

“Malaysia Airlines allows for deferment or cancellation or refund of travel to passengers who are affected by restrictions imposed by certain countries as specified on our travel advisory, ” it said in a statement to The Star yesterday.

MAS said it had temporarily suspended the Kota Kinabalu-Shanghai-Kota Kinabalu route effective Tuesday until further notice.

This followed the Sabah government’s decision to impose temporary travel restrictions to visitors from China.

Flights between Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Shanghai as well as Beijing and Hong Kong had also been reduced, said MAS.

Other airlines such as AirAsia have extended the period for travellers to obtain credit account or full refund for those who have booked their flights to or from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The extension period is up to March 31.

AirAsia has also offered alternative options to passengers affected by the cancellation of “Tokyo Marathon 2020”, which is slated for March 1.

On Monday, the organisers announced that the annual race, one of the six World Marathon Majors, would be called off for non-professional runners in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the region.

AirAsia’s offer covers those with travel plans between Feb 28 and March 3 this year. However, passengers must present proof of registration for the marathon to receive the offer.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Singapore Airlines (SIA) and SilkAir have cancelled more than 100 flights between Singapore and countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany and the United States between March and May due to weak demand amid the Covid-19 scare.

Customers affected by the cancellation would be notified and re-accommodated onto other flights, said SIA on its website on Tuesday.

The earliest flight affected is from Singapore to Jakarta on March 3 and the latest are several flights on May 31 between Singapore and London as well as between Tokyo and Singapore.

SIA, SilkAir and Scoot have also suspended flights to mainland China due to weak demand and China’s decision to lock down several cities.

The flight disruptions have inconvenienced many travellers.

Senior manager Linda Jothi said she was taken aback when she was informed via email by Malindo Air that her flight dates were changed just days before she was scheduled to go on a holiday with her family.

She was supposed to visit Vietnam on Feb 27 to March 1.

“I suddenly got an email from Malindo stating that it has changed my flight date due to unforeseen circumstances. That’s so terrible. What if I were to have a meeting?”

For Linda, the sudden change on her flight details had a domino effect involving changing the dates of her travel insurance and accommodation.

“It was very stressful this morning. I had to also change the date of our return tickets to Malaysia because there were no other available dates, ” she said.

Linda said she was allowed to change her accommodation plans without any charges.

An executive who wants to be known as Canice said her flight to Japan via AirAsia on March 9 was cancelled.

“I got the trip all planned out since six months ago.

“My applied leave is going to be wasted, ” the 27-year-old groaned.

Senior manager John Pang said he and his wife had been planning for a Tokyo holiday since last year.

“It was so difficult to synchronise our schedules and now this trip to Japan has been cancelled by the travel agency.

“We have to think of another holiday instead, ” he said.

Pang said they had received a refund from the agency.

Jenny Lim, 21, a student of Beijing University, said she was supposed to resume her class on Feb 2, but it had been postponed.

She is currently doing her course via online lectures in Malaysia.

“I am still uncertain when I’ll get to return to university, ” said Lim, adding that she had also cancelled her return flight.

“I don’t mind the online learning, but face-to-face lectures are always better and more efficient.”

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