AirAsia CEO urges customers to accept credit as refund alternative

More than 80% of affected AirAsia customers have accepted the credit refund offer


AIRASIA Group Bhd CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes (picture; left) urged its affected customers to accept credit refunds instead of cash because the low-cost carrier currently has no revenue as 96% of its fleet is grounded.

Fernandes said while the airline still has significant ongoing financial commitments, including fuel suppliers and leasing agents, AirAsia is doing everything possible to reduce costs during this challenging period and encourages customers to accept a credit as a good alternative.

“While we strongly encourage you to accept the credit which is instant and comes with a 365-day validity that allows you to change your flight date an unlimited number of times, we do accept requests for refunds on a case-by-case basis.

“However, due to the overwhelming number of requests that we have received, it may take a long process of between 12 and 16 weeks,” he said in a statement over the weekend.

Fernandes highlighted that AirAsia is one of the few airlines in the world which has retained its employees despite being badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to him, more than 80% of AirAsia’s customers have accepted its credit offer.

Fernandes said AirAsia’s customer service and Allstar AVA are handling 10 times the normal volume of queries during the Covid-19 outbreak, which is approximately half a million guests on a daily basis.

As such, he asserted that AirAsia is taking customer feedback seriously and is making improvements to the system daily.

Fernandes revealed that he and AirAsia executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun (right) will not be taking any salary during this period.

AirAsia’s employees from across the business have also accepted temporary pay reductions of any- where between 15% and 75% depending on seniority.

AirAsia closed two sen or 2.03% lower to 73 sen last Friday, with a RM2.42 billion market capitalisation.

Last week, the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) said it is currently providing some leeway for airlines in terms of how they need to respond and complete refund requests.

Mavcom said under the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code, consumers may receive compensation for flight disruptions caused by airlines.

“However, this regulation does not apply where the flight disruption is an ‘extraordinary circumstance’, outside of airline’s control. Containment measures of the Covid-19 involve national quarantines and travel bans, not only in Malaysia, but countries worldwide,” it said.

“These situations are deemed extraordinary circumstances in which airlines will have to abide due to security and safety measures,” it added.

Mavcom said this in response to the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents’ demands for airlines to refund passengers and travel agents affected by Covid-19 with cash on flight cancellations instead of credit values.