AirAsia X passengers who have been waiting to be refunded for flights cancelled as far back as 2020 are urging the company to come forward and explain what is so difficult about compensating them in cash.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, they also voiced confusion about a recent statement by AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail that the company could not provide cash refunds to passengers because of the law.
At the press conference, Benyamin said that AirAsia X had just undergone a court restructuring process.
Under the law, he said, the company could not give cash refunds to anyone including creditors.
He added that AirAsia X would instead provide credit refunds through travel vouchers as well as a 10% cash payment.
But the AirAsia X passengers are continuing to insist that the low-cost airline return their money at once.
Chan Shiao Yiing from Taiping, Perak, said she needed her money back to repay two of her friends who are senior citizens.
In December 2019, Chan had booked six tickets to Japan worth RM7,710. The flight was scheduled to depart in April 2020.
But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the flight was cancelled and Chan was refunded in credit form.
“I did not choose to be refunded in this form,” she said. “But I don’t know how to apply for a refund.
“Two of the tickets were for my two friends. How can I pay them back if I myself have been refunded in credits?”
Chan tried to contact AirAsia’s customer service but gave up after a long wait.
“They put me on hold,” she said. “Sometimes I would be the 200th one in line.”
Upake De Silva from Sydney, Australia, said he had received neither cash nor credit since his flight scheduled for December 2020 was cancelled.
He spent nearly A$5,000 (RM15,166) on five tickets to bring his family from Colombo to Sydney via Kuala Lumpur. The tickets were from AirAsia and AirAsia X.
“I was told that AirAsia X was in the process of restructuring its debts, but as of today, I have yet to receive any refund whatsoever,” De Silva said.
De Silva did lodge a complaint with the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and received an email from AirAsia the following week.
“It said the company would look into the refund issue but after that, there were no further developments,” he said.
De Silva, who had always been a loyal AirAsia customer, said he was disappointed to have received such treatment, and that he was reluctant to use the airline’s services again.
“My first flight with AirAsia was in 2007,” he recalled. “I was a loyal customer. But I might turn to other airlines in the future.”
MalaysiaNow contacted AirAsia for an explanation of Benyamin’s statement but has yet to receive a response.
“Thank you for contacting us,” an AirAsia spokesman said. “I will share this enquiry with the team. We will inform you if there are any developments.”
Meanwhile, Kong Kiek Ching from Johor hopes that AirAsia will consider extending the validity period for its “unlimited pass” to accommodate passengers who have not had a chance to use it.
In Kong’s case, he bought a pass on March 3, 2020, just 10 days before Malaysia imposed its first movement control order to curb the spread of Covid-19.
He never got a chance to use it before its expiry on June 16, 2021.
“The terms and conditions state that no cancellations or refunds are allowed,” he said.
“But given the Covid-19 situation and the closure of international borders, I was told that the pass could be extended.”
With the borders now open again, he had planned a trip to Melbourne, Australia.
“But there are no AirAsia flights from here to there, and anyway, the pass has expired,” he said.
Kong said the situation was unfair as he was completely unable to use the pass after paying RM499 for it.
“I was also surprised to receive an email stating that AirAsia had already repaid me in credit, because when I checked my account balance, no credit had been received,” he said.
“AirAsia should extend this pass for another year so that people like me can still use it.”