Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah yesterday praised AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) for coming up with ‘relief’ plans for their customers who were affected by Covid-19 pandemic.

He stated that it was good to hear that the two airlines have come up with relief plans for those who have bought tickets but were unable to fly.

“I personally feel that this gesture is good as consumers, and in this case, travellers should not be penalised for what is happening (Covid-19 situation),” he said.

“Covid-19 has upset all travel plans, led to ‘lockdown’ by several governments in the world, and of course losses to airlines and to consumers.

“But travellers who have purchased tickets should not be solely liable. They should be allowed to have refunds and/or given options to travel at a later time when the situation gets better,” he told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.

Abdul Karim went on to suggest that if travellers opt for refund, a minimum ‘administrative or service charge’ fee may be imposed.

On Monday (March 16), low-cost airline AirAsia said it would be allowing its customers – who have tickets issued before March 7 for departure up till April 30 – to make a one-time flight date change for free, as long as the new itinerary is on the same route and within 90 days from the original flight.

Alternatively, affected customers can choose to retain the value of their fare in an AirAsia Big loyalty account for future use on AirAsia, or to apply for a full refund on their fare, or change their flight dates, depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Meanwhile, national carrier MAS said affected travellers are entitled to a rebooking or refund, depending on the situation they are in.

In addition, under its new ultimate flexibility ticket change policy effective March 13, MAS is also allowing unlimited changes to flight dates free of charge, or changes in destination, which are subject to additional charges in fare differences.