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MAVCOM empowers consumers to exercise their air travel rights

27 Aug, 2019

 

MAVCOM empowers consumers to exercise their air travel rights

 

MIRI, 27 AUGUST 2019 – The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) has received a total of 1,679 complaints from January 2018 to December 2018, with 81 complaints coming from Sarawak (reflecting five per cent of total complaints received). 

The top complaints by category for Sarawak are mishandled baggage (28.4 per cent); refunds (21.0 per cent) and flight delays (12.3 per cent). Malaysia Airlines recorded 38 complaints, followed by AirAsia with 27 complaints, and MASwings with eight complaints.  

In addition to the complaints registered with the Commission, there were also complaints received which were incomplete, therefore could not be properly evaluated. There were instances where the airline or airport had provided a resolution in line with the requirements of the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) and was not taken further; and some complaints lodged were more than a year from the incident date, beyond the MACPC’s scope or not related to the aviation industry. 

MAVCOM, an independent body set up under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 [“Act 771”], had in 2016, introduced the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (“MACPC” or “Code”) which came into effect in July 2016. The Code, the first in Malaysia’s aviation industry and the result of extensive engagement with relevant stakeholders, was designed with consumers in mind and adapted from international guidelines such as the Montreal Convention 1999 as well as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s Core Principles on Consumer Protection. 

“What this means for consumers is that when they travel by air in and from Malaysia, their rights are clearly defined and protected under the national law. These rights cover dealings with airlines, airports and other aviation service providers, including foreign airlines operating into and out of Malaysia,” said Pushpalatha Subramaniam, Director of Consumer Affairs, MAVCOM when speaking to media in Miri today.

The MACPC contains guidance regarding passenger rights. Since its first implementation, MAVCOM has obtained much feedback from consumers and in May 2019 announced that some changes in the MACPC were being made as a result of such feedback and consultations with aviation players in Malaysia. 

“These amendments will further enhance and protect the travel rights of consumers. In line with the Commission’s role in protecting consumers’ rights, we believe that these amendments to the MACPC will better safeguard travellers’ welfare while also raising overall service levels in the industry,” added Pushpalatha. 

The updated MACPC now requires airlines to publish the final price of airfare for flight tickets, disclosing the final price of airfare both at the point of advertisement and when purchasing flight tickets. The final price must include the base fare and all charges to be paid to the airline, government-imposed taxes and fees, fees and charges prescribed under any written law, as well as fuel surcharge. This in effect eliminates hidden charges, such as card payment charges and administrative fees. Charges for optional services purchased by a consumer on an opt-in basis should also be displayed and included in the final price at point of payment.

Effective 1 June 2019, refunds on flight tickets should also be reimbursed to passengers within 30 days from the date the passenger requests for a refund. Likewise, if the ticket is purchased through a travel agent, the airline should reimburse the travel agent within the same duration of time. The amendments also include a refund to consumers on passenger service charges, taxes, fees, and charges prescribed under any written law for both refundable and non-refundable tickets, should a passenger not travel. Airlines are only permitted to charge a maximum of five per cent processing fee if the ticket is non-refundable.

The amended MACPC also includes provisions on wheelchair service for persons with disability, disclosure of Terms and Conditions at the point of purchase, and responsibilities of airlines to ensure its staff or handling agents have adequate knowledge of the MACPC.

“Since its establishment in 2016, MAVCOM has undertaken various initiatives to educate consumers of their travel rights. Another milestone that the Commission has achieved is the introduction of FlySmart and launch of the FlySmart mobile application,” explained Pushpalatha. 

FlySmart is a consumer-centric initiative by MAVCOM where consumers can obtain information of their travel rights through various platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and the FlySmart website. The FlySmart mobile application is another convenient platform for consumers to have easy access to essential information and lodge their complaints from their mobile devices. Consumers are also able to track the status of their complaints through the mobile application. The FlySmart initiative is more than just a medium to educate consumers, it is also a platform for consumers to empower one another as it features stories by travellers on how they were able to exercise their rights as consumers with the assistance of the Commission.

Apart from the FlySmart mobile application, consumers can access the FlySmart website (www.flysmart.my) which is available in English and Bahasa Malaysia as well as dedicated FlySmart Facebook and Instagram pages. The consumer-focused FlySmart was introduced in June last year through its website and social media platforms to enable consumers to have easier access to tips and information on their rights as well as to make it easier for them to lodge their complaints to MAVCOM.