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What about AirAsia, Loke asked after Batik Air rebuke

AirAsia passengers urge the transport minister to take equal action across the board.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook conducts a surprise check at klia2 after visiting the AirAsia headquarters in Sepang on Dec 28. Photo: Facebook
Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook conducts a surprise check at klia2 after visiting the AirAsia headquarters in Sepang on Dec 28. Photo: Facebook

An aviation expert has urged Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook not to split hairs in reprimanding airlines for wrongdoings, but to take equal action across the board. 

Germal Singh Khera, a former Mavcom Aviation Development director, also said it was unfair for Loke to rebuke only Batik Air for flight delays given similar problems of a greater frequency at AirAsia. 

Loke had said that he would look into the matter after a number of video clips went viral, showing Batik Air passengers scolding the airline's staff following delays, reportedly of up to eight hours.

But Germal said that in most cases, the transport minister is not directly involved in the affairs of aviation operations. 

"These can be easily handled by the relevant regulatory authorities such as Mavcom and the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia," he added. 

"As a minister, he should be fair to all parties. Why single out Batik Air? Why is there no mention of AirAsia delays and cancellations or refund issues? This is being biased." 

Mavcom data published in September showed that the most complaints from passengers from January to June this year were against AirAsia. 

A total of 527 complaints (42.1%) were made against the budget airline, followed by 40.7% against Malaysia Airlines.

Batik Air received 99 complaints or 7.9%.

Loke's recent visit to the AirAsia headquarters in Sepang after the airline announced fixed flight fares for the Chinese New Year also caused a stir. 

Some AirAsia passengers, including from overseas, asked why Loke had not taken the opportunity to address the issue of flight delays, cancellations and problems with refunds reported since 2020. 

Malaysian Low EeMay said she was surprised to see Loke being so firm with Batik Air when he had not taken the same approach to AirAsia. 

"AirAsia is much worse," she said, adding however that Loke might not be familiar with the issues associated with AirAsia as he had only recently taken over as transport minister. 

"He should mention AirAsia which has more problems than just flight delays." 

Harmeet Singh from Sydney meanwhile spoke of a betrayal by AirAsia as well as the Malaysian authorities. 

"The Malaysian government has failed to act," he said.

"All of this is happening under the excuse of AirAsia's debt restructuring process."

Tommy Nagao of Japan said he had given up on obtaining a refund from AirAsia. 

"Tony Fernandes will continue getting away with this, and it seems that no one can stop him, not even the transport minister," he said. 

Malaysian Low Pui San urged Loke to look into the matter, given that people's hard-earned money was at stake. 

"God knows what the cumulative sum is in terms of advance payments by passengers," she said. 

"I hope he will really look into this. With enough noise and attention, I hope he will." 

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