The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has urged all parties to respect and abide by the decision of the courts, in a statement which may dash the hopes of AirAsia X (AAX) passengers who have been waiting to be refunded for flights cancelled as far back as 2020.
AAX recently underwent a debt restructuring process in which the low-cost carrier said it had received the consent of 99% of its creditors on Nov 12, 2021 for the proposal approved by the High Court on Dec 16, 2021.
According to AAX CEO Benyamin Ismail, the process meant that under the law, the airline could not issue refunds in cash form.
AAX instead offered compensation in the form of credit or travel vouchers as well as 10% of the price of the flight ticket price.
The move sparked anger among passengers who have been urging the company to respect their rights as consumers and to give them their money back immediately.
A Mavcom spokesman said under the scheme of arrangement implemented by AAX and supervised by the High Court, all debts and liabilities including money owed to consumers were subject to terms and conditions.
However, he reiterated that AAX should reimburse the cost price of the airline tickets purchased by customers, whom he said should not be classified as creditors under the scheme.
"AAX will provide 100% compensation in the form of credit, in addition to other forms of compensation which consumers are eligible to receive under the scheme," he told MalaysiaNow.
"It is important for AAX to fulfil its responsibilities and reimburse all affected consumers as quickly as possible, to ensure that they are fairly compensated."
Nevertheless, checks by MalaysiaNow found a number of affected passengers who had managed to obtain refunds in cash despite the statement issued by Benyamin.
Among them is Sanjay Banerjee, an Indian national who spammed the airline's LinkedIn account, and Filipino passenger Rose Marie Jane Rementina.
Another, Nagendran, succeeded in receiving a refund after going to the Small Claims Court in Shah Alam.
When asked about these cases, Mavcom told MalaysiaNow to seek an explanation directly from AAX.
However, MalaysiaNow is still waiting for a response from the company.
Mavcom, which regulates economic and commercial matters relating to civil aviation, said all airlines must comply with the laws set in the destination country.
"This is likely to be a factor in any alternate payment modes," the spokesman added.
He also said that Mavcom would not hesitate to exercise its power under the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code if AAX did not fulfil its responsibilities.
He said Mavcom was monitoring the progress of the AAX debt restructuring, in line with the commission's duties and the protection of consumers' rights.
"Nevertheless, AAX may, at its discretion, offer special flight promotions to passengers according to the terms and conditions which it deems appropriate," he said, citing Paragraph 3 of the Sanction Order.
"On a discretionary basis, AAX offers consumers travel credit equal to the total value of unused flight tickets.
"This travel credit is valid for a period of five years and can be used immediately for any existing AAX flight."