Budget carrier AirAsia has refuted concerns raised by a group of passengers about the safety of a recent flight from China to Kuala Lumpur, saying the incidents in question were handled "swiftly and appropriately" and that safety was never compromised.
In a statement issued by AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat, it said flight AK117 from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport to Kuala Lumpur on May 1 was indeed required to turn back.
However, it said this was due to a technical issue identified inflight, adding that it was not an emergency situation and that no depressurisation had occurred.
"The occurrence was caused by a separate technical unit that needed to be rectified before any cabin pressure adjustments could be made," it added.
"While the separate technical unit is related to the cabin pressurisation, it did not cause depressurisation as mentioned. Our flight crew are highly trained in safety and security procedures and took the appropriate measures for a technical issue of this nature.
"The return to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport was necessary to rectify the issue as soon as possible."
The passengers said in a press conference at klia2 yesterday that they were told after take-off that the plane would need to return to Guangzhou due to technical issues linked to air pressure.
They also said that the plane had to hover in Chinese airspace for almost two hours in order to burn fuel before finally touching down.
While they were accommodated at a hotel, they said they were later told that they would be re-boarding the same plane, and that their luggage continued to Kuala Lumpur without them.
AirAsia said the burning of excess fuel was in line with its safety procedures and that it had been done over a designated area cleared by the air traffic control.
"Upon landing, all necessary safety procedures were followed and rectifications of the technical issue were undertaken in accordance with industry requirements as acknowledged by the authorities.
"As the same aircraft was safely cleared to fly, the airline was not required to change the aircraft," it said.
AirAsia said that the passengers were provided with the necessary assistance at the airport, including accommodation and travel vouchers, and given the option to move their flight for free within 30 days, receive a full refund, or full credit which would be valid for two years.
"We would like to reiterate that the aviation industry is very tightly regulated to ensure the highest levels of safety and security.
"AirAsia Malaysia also has Iosa accreditation, which is the global benchmark for upholding the highest standards of operational integrity and safety at all times," it said.
"We apologise for the inconvenience and will do all we can to get everyone to their destination, while upholding the highest standards of safety and operational integrity at all times.
"AirAsia would also like to urge the public to not speculate or spread misinformation that may cause public alarm."