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AirAsia passengers up in arms after China flight scare

They relate their experience and say they are considering legal action against the budget carrier.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
AirAsia passenger Brian Ng Yih Min gestures during a press conference at klia2, May 3.
AirAsia passenger Brian Ng Yih Min gestures during a press conference at klia2, May 3.

A group of AirAsia passengers voiced disappointment today in the airline's response to what they described as safety issues following delays in a recent flight.  

The group's representative Brian Ng Yih Min said the flight, AK117, was supposed to depart for Kuala Lumpur from Guangzhou, China, on May 1. 

Speaking in a press conference at klia2, he said the passengers were informed about 30 minutes after take-off that the plane would need to return to Guangzhou due to technical issues linked to air pressure. 

Before the plane landed, he said, it had to hover in Chinese airspace for nearly two hours in order to burn fuel before finally touching down at 1.30am. 

"I asked the crew and they explained that if the plane flew past a certain altitude, we might face issues such as a lack of oxygen," he added. 

"There was a possibility that we might pass out, making the situation very dangerous." 

Ng said the passengers were taken to a hotel at 3.30am, and that some of them were informed by AirAsia that the return flight would take off at 9.45am. 

However, they were taken aback to learn that they would be boarding the same plane. 

Ng said some of the passengers were upset as they had been told that they would be taking a different plane. 

"Of course we wouldn't get on the same plane because we didn't trust its safety," he said. 

"If safety was not an issue, why would we need to turn back and spend almost two hours hovering before we landed?

"AirAsia gave us no official explanation of what had happened, and in fact we were threatened that if we did not board the plane, it would depart and they would not be responsible for anything," he said, adding that the matter had been informed to them in Mandarin. 

The passengers then returned to the hotel and were told that their luggage would be sent there as well. 

However, they were later shocked to learn that their bags had instead been sent straight back to Kuala Lumpur. 

"Because of the situation, we had no choice. We bought new flight tickets and returned to Malaysia on another plane," Ng said. 

"The clothes we are wearing right now were bought last night as we were left with nothing after our luggage was sent back to Kuala Lumpur." 

Ng said the passengers were considering legal action against AirAsia, adding that a complaint would be made to the Malaysian Aviation Commission or Mavcom. 

"We are very disappointed with AirAsia's response which was published in Oriental Daily, where they said that this was normal and not a big problem," he said. 

"We have a lot of proof to show that the claims published in the paper are not true."

He said he had also written to the transport ministry but had yet to receive a response. 

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