KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has urged airlines to provide cash refunds to customers affected by flight cancellations as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Matta vice president for air transportation Shazli Affuat Ghazali said airlines should make cash refunds as their top priority and not issue credit notes which might have little or no value should these airlines go insolvent.
“While they are being bailed out or given loans to resume operations post-pandemic, they must first payout cash refunds to restore public confidence and it is a matter of principle to return payments collected from customers for services not rendered due to the current circumstances,” he said in a statement today.
Airlines should give a full refund for payments made by passengers and travel agents without applying standard terms and conditions which are applicable during normal times but not during the pandemic, he said.
“Airlines should not differentiate between group bookings for Group Inclusive Tour (GIT) and individuals travelling as Free Independent Travellers (FIT). The same treatment will hasten refunds across the board and recovery post-pandemic,” he said.
Shazli Affuat said he is disappointed with the silence on the part of the authority including the Transport Ministry and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom).
He said one of Mavcom’s functions is to provide a mechanism for the protection of consumers.
The commission should have stepped forward to announce clearly what measures are in place or would be introduced for customers to get their money back.
“While it is painful enough for individual passengers to wait indefinitely for refunds, the agony is multiplied manifold among travel agents with angry customers constantly behind their back.
“What the country needs now is strong and decisive leadership to resolve the issue and MOT must take into cognisance that airlines are the first in the long line of supply chains and every action taken by them will ripple across the entire tourism industry,” he said.
Therefore, Matta he said, is looking forward to the ministry issuing directives to airlines that include notifying passengers and travel agents that normal cancellation and rebooking charges do not apply from the time of the outbreak till the end of the pandemic, providing the option for a cash refund or available credit that could be used within three years as well as full refunds for flight cancellations, including ancillary fees. – Bernama