Consumers on the losing end

A FEW days ago, our local media reported that the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) had informed airlines to offer cash refunds to customers who are holding tickets that were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

I wrote to Mavcom to ask whether this was a “directive” or a “suggestion”.

Following is Mavcom’s reply: “The Commission on 22 February 2021 had issued a statement urging airlines to exercise the principles of reasonableness and fairness in determining the manner of refund for flight cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This may include reviewing the request for refunds submitted by consumers on a case-to-case basis and offer the options of either a credit shell/travel voucher or cash/credit card based on the merit of the request. As you may be well aware, the flight cancellation by airlines due to the Covid-19 pandemic is beyond the airlines’ control.”

It looks like Mavcom can “only urge” airlines to use their discretion to determine the manner of, but not “order” them to offer, refunds.

We do not know what criteria airlines use to decide whether a passenger gets a cash refund or not.

And since it is at their discretion, I wonder which airline would want to refund passengers’ booking fees since most of them would be facing cash flow issues now.

We agree it is not the airlines’ fault that flights were cancelled. But then again, it is not the passengers’ fault either.

So, since it is neither the airlines’ nor the passengers’ fault, why should only the latter suffer?

Are passengers not entitled to any rights? Do the airlines have the right to hold on to passengers’ money for as long as they like?


Petaling Jaya

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