For two years, engineer Shahril Amir Muhamad has been trying everything he can to get a refund for some tickets that he bought from low-cost airline AirAsia in late 2019.
He had saved for six months to collect enough money for a trip to Japan with his wife, and was eagerly anticipating the holiday.
He booked two tickets to Narita, Tokyo, on Sept 30, 2019 for a flight on March 25, 2020 at a cost of RM1,622. The return tickets from Kansai to Kuala Lumpur, he booked on Jan 1, 2020 at a cost of RM2,568.
On March 17, 2020, he requested a refund after the government announced the nationwide movement control order which saw Malaysia’s borders slam shut as part of attempts to keep the Covid-19 pandemic at bay.
On March 23, he received an email from AirAsia informing him that his flight two days from then had been cancelled.
“I was told on July 4, 2020 that my request for a refund had been approved through a credit note.
“But since then, there have been no further developments and I am still waiting to receive my money back.”
After waiting almost 10 months, Shahril made an online report to the consumer tribunal on May 3, 2021. He was called to attend a hearing on Oct 25.
But to his disappointment, he was told that his problem was beyond the jurisdiction of the tribunal and that he would have to refer the matter to the Malaysian Aviation Commission or Mavcom.
“I lodged a complaint with Mavcom the next day, and an officer contacted me two days later.
“But he only explained the debt restructuring measures undertaken by AirAsia X which I already knew about from an email I received from the company on Oct 18, 2021,” he said.
MalaysiaNow has reached out to Mavcom but received no response as of yet.
According to a media statement issued by AirAsia on Nov 12, 2021, the RM33.65 billion debt settlement scheme proposed by the low-cost carrier was approved by 99% of its creditors through a vote at a meeting held that day.
It said the proposed debt restructuring approved by the High Court would likely be completed in the first quarter of 2022.
Upon agreeing to the proposal, it said, consumers would receive 0.5% of the total ticket price paid, as well as some of the profit earned from the financial years of 2023 to 2026.
Creditors were also guaranteed to receive travel credit that could be used for flight tickets or goods and services provided by AirAsia X in the future, after the international borders reopened.
However, it also stated that the profit-sharing mechanism would not be implemented if the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation, and restructuring or rent costs (Ebitdar) was not less than RM300 million.
Shahril himself disagreed with the proposal and urged Mavcom to act in order to get him his money back.
“At first, I was confident when Mavcom issued a statement saying that it would take action if AirAsia X did not return the money that customers had spent on tickets.
“But then everything ended like that with no further action,” he said to MalaysiaNow.
Determined to get back the RM4,000 and change that he had spent, Shahril was encouraged to hear about the experience of another passenger who had persisted until he was given a refund.
Nagendran, whose story MalaysiaNow recounted in November last year, had fought to the end to recover nearly RM5,000 after his family’s trip to Cambodia was cancelled.
“His success is proof that I still have hope of getting back my money,” Shahril said.