Critical for airline consumer rights to be enhanced, says Dr Wee

KUALA LUMPUR: It is critical that airline consumer rights be enhanced to safeguard consumer well-being and ensure the people’s interests are always protected, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Such a pursuit, amid the challenges brought on by the pandemic, requires extensive collaborations and engagement to bring the aviation industry forward, both locally and globally, he added.

"To prepare for the future, we must reflect on the lessons learned from the pandemic and improve further,” he said in his speech at the Malaysian Aviation Commission’s (Mavcom) inaugural international aviation webinar, “Charting a New Frontier: Aviation Consumer Protection Needs Today and Beyond.”

Dr Wee said Covid-19 had reaffirmed the critical importance of air travel and its development for Malaysia as airlines and airports also had to quickly adapt to the introduction of new regulations and pivot their business and operational strategies during the pandemic.

"On the part of industry players and policymakers, it is important that constant revisions and updates are made to legislation and other specific regulations governing consumer rights while maintaining competitiveness within the industry,” he said.

Dr Wee said aviation was on the road to recovery, but cautioned that it was a long and winding one.

"All of us can play a role in bettering air travel for consumers in the recovery. By implementing appropriate strategies, good industry practices, and proactive actions, we will overcome the pandemic’s impacts together,” he said.

Dr Wee said Malaysia forecast air passenger traffic numbers in 2022 to be between 32.6 million and 49 million.

He said Malaysia’s annual passenger traffic declined sharply from 109.2 million in 2019 to 26.7 million in 2020, and dropped further to 11 million in 2021.

During the height of the pandemic, airlines recorded an unprecedented drop in seat capacity of -92.3% year-on-year in May 2020, the largest ever decline in the Malaysian aviation industry, he added.

The webinar is the first of its kind in Malaysia, with 13 panel speakers and hosting over 200 global leaders of the industry over three panel session topics pertaining to aviation regarding consumer protection pre, during and post-Covid-19 pandemic.

It aims to strengthen aviation consumer protection as well as further educate and empower consumers on their rights.

Delegates include governments and policymakers, regulators and legal bodies, aviation service providers, airlines and airport representatives, aviation experts, as well as consumer associations. - Bernama

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