JOHOR BARU: Airlines should provide accommodation for passengers who have been affected by last-minute cancellations of flights, says Tourism Johor director Suhairi Hashim.
He said he had received eight reports from unsatisfied tourists who were affected by the cancellation of a flight on Saturday (Aug 13) between Johor Baru and Jakarta.
Suhairi said some passengers were already at the Senai International Airport as early as 8pm on Friday (Aug 12) to ensure that they would not miss their flight scheduled to depart at 11pm.
"The flight was rescheduled to 12am Saturday before it was cancelled. Some of the stranded passengers are tourists who came to Johor and were heading home.
"This is not the first incident. I received similar reports on Thursday (Aug 11) where a flight that was supposed to leave at 11pm was rescheduled to 6.30am on Friday.
"People have to spend the night at the airport, which is not a good image for the tourism industry in the state," he said on Tuesday (Aug 16).
Meanwhile, AirAsia Indonesia chief executive officer Veranita Yosephine said a return Indonesia AirAsia service flight QZ 240/241, flying between Jakarta and Johor, was cancelled on Aug 13 due to an aircraft requiring engineers' assessment in Jakarta.
"The situation was unforeseen and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to affected guests. However, safety is always our first priority and this will always come before our schedule.
"As always, when there is a flight disruption, we do all we can to minimise the inconvenience for our valued guests and provide alternate arrangements to assist guests to get to where they are going as soon as possible, including, in this case, a free-of-charge flight change to the next available flight and hotel accommodation overnight if our guests are away from home.
"It remains our commitment to always deliver the very best in terms of safe, affordable, and reliable air travel," she said in a statement.
Veranita said the global aviation industry was currently experiencing more than usual disruptions following the unprecedented effects of the pandemic, including longer than usual lead times for aircraft maintenance providers.
"We are working very hard to return to normal operations as soon as possible in the near future and thank our guests for their patience and understanding," she said.