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Tony Fernandes forced to defend AirAsia himself

The airline boss is taken to task by passengers fed up with AirAsia's customer service and flight delays.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes speaks during an Airbus and AirAsia signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 30, 2019. Photo: AFP
AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes speaks during an Airbus and AirAsia signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 30, 2019. Photo: AFP

Airline boss Tony Fernandes was recently forced to defend his company AirAsia from disgruntled passengers airing their frustrations about the low-cost carrier. 

Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia parent company Capital A Bhd, had uploaded an Instagram post on Sunday introducing "Ask Bo", the airline's latest chatbot.

His post received a comment from one T Buventiran, who said Ask Bo was no different from AVA, the chatbot's predecessor which was introduced in 2019. 

Buventiran also voiced disappointment with the airline over its flight delays. 

"No difference, sir," Buventiran said. "Improve the things that you should improve first." 

Fernandes responded, asking Buventiran to show him when he had used the bot "so I can see why it's no difference [sic]".

"It's typical negative and love to run down kinda person," he added. 

"And please highlight which flight was delayed. Our on time is at a record high." 

Buventiran then presented Fernandes with details, including the plane's flight number, saying it was supposed to take off from klia2 to Langkawi at 7.10pm on Feb 16. 

"It was delayed to 11pm," he said. "Please explain why." 

Fernandes replied that the flight had returned from China with an engine issue. 

"It happens and I apologise," he added. "We don't deliberately have delays." 

The comment section was nevertheless flooded with remarks by other users who urged Fernandes to take better notice of the issues associated with AirAsia, especially in terms of customer service and flight delays. 

While the conversation was eventually taken down, users continued to vent their frustrations. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Buventiran said the issue he had brought up was not the only problem he had faced while dealing with AirAsia. 

On Nov 21 last year, he said he had booked two round-trip tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar via Malaysia Airlines, using AirAsia's platform. 

The flight tickets were meant for his parents, and the plane was scheduled to depart on Nov 27. 

But he encountered difficulties during the check-in process and rushed to KLIA for an explanation from Malaysia Airlines.

There, he was told that the booking had been handled by AirAsia. 

"They said I needed to go to the AirAsia customer service centre in klia2," he added. 

"I was shocked to be told that the failure was because my account had been hacked. How could this have happened? This is a serious issue. 

"This clearly shows that passengers are at risk in terms of cyber security when using AirAsia's platform." 

Buventiran said he waited at klia2 for nearly two hours before AirAsia finally agreed to let his parents board another flight the following day. 

"Unfortunately, that flight was also delayed for a short while although it eventually took off that same day," he said.

MalaysiaNow is still waiting for a response from AirAsia.