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MAVCOM Continues to Safeguard Aviation Consumer Rights during MCO through Consumer Protection Code

8 Apr, 2020

 

KUALA LUMPUR, 8 April 2020: The Malaysian Aviation Commission (“Commission”) refers to the press statement from the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) issued today.

COVID-19 has contributed towards the aviation industry globally undergoing one of the most challenging periods of its history. Passenger travel has plummeted, and airline revenues have therefore significantly decreased, therefore resulting in the airlines facing severe challenges in managing their resources and cashflows. These unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances are also true in Malaysia.

MAVCOM’s base case scenario forecasts passenger traffic in Malaysia to decrease between 36.2 per cent and 38.1 per cent year-on-year in 2020 arising from COVID-19, while IATA projects that Asia Pacific states will see passenger demand reduce by 34 per cent to 44 per cent this year.

To date, airlines operating in Malaysia have indicated a cancellation of approximately 13.6 million seats, or 12.3 per cent of annual scheduled operations. The Malaysian carriers have correspondingly received an inordinately high volume of passenger refund requests, which their resources are currently striving to manage.

As such, the airlines may take longer than usual to respond to consumers. The financial challenges currently faced by the airlines have also coincided with them needing to adopt varying forms of refunds, including cash, vouchers, credit shell or alternatively deferment of travel.

The Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC), which the Commission introduced in 2016 to protect consumer interests in air travel, requires airlines to resolve complaints and remit refunds to consumers within 30 days of receipt of those complaints. Given the current prevailing circumstances and in the spirit of facilitating the industry, the Commission is temporarily providing some leeway in terms of the time they need to respond and complete refund requests.

At the same time, to ensure consumer interests remain protected, the Commission is requiring the airlines to resolve complaints and refund requests as timely as possible on best efforts basis, and the Commission shall monitor the airlines’ performance in this spirit.

Under the MACPC, consumers may receive compensation for flight disruptions caused by airlines. However, this regulation does not apply where the flight disruptions 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. These situations are deemed as extraordinary circumstances in which airlines will have to abide due to security and safety measures.

MAVCOM has prepared an FAQ available on its FlySmart website which consumers may refer to for information on refund requests during this COVID-19 period. Please refer to https://flysmart.my/en/covid-related-faq/, or call us at 1800 18 6966. The Commission also strongly encourages consumers to refer to the website of respective carriers to ascertain the terms of any refund requests. The airline nevertheless retains a commercial discretion on whether to exceed the prevailing tickets terms in favour of the consumer.

The Commission is very sympathetic towards the plight of consumers who have been inconvenienced and will continue its efforts for air travel consumer protection in Malaysia. We nevertheless also hope all stakeholders work together in these unprecedented circumstances for the longer-term survival and benefit of the aviation industry in Malaysia.

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