The Star/Asia News Network
AirAsia Group CEO, Tony Fernandes speaks at a press conference in Sydney on March 12, 2015. (AFP/Peter Parks)
AirAsia customers are urged to accept store credit for replacement flights instead of claiming refunds for flights affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, says Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
The AirAsia Group chief executive officer also said the airline is among the few in the world that had chosen to retain its staff in this challenging time.
"Like all airlines, AirAsia had no choice but to cancel a large number of flights due to government restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“I know many of you have expressed frustration with not receiving a refund for your flights but I encourage you to accept credit as a good alternative, ” he said in a post on his Instagram account Sunday.
"More than 80 percent of you have accepted our credit offer and we truly appreciate this. Please know that our policy is in line with many operators in the travel industry and reflects our focus on coming out the other side of this difficult period and flying with you again as soon as possible," he said.
Fernandes admitted that this was possibly "the biggest challenge" the company had faced, as "we have no revenue coming in, 96 percent of our fleet is grounded and we still have significant ongoing financial commitments such as fuel suppliers and leasing agents, ” he said
He added that the airline is “doing everything possible to reduce costs” to enable it to come back fighting as soon as possible.
“Kamarudin and I will not be taking a salary during this period and Allstars from across the business have accepted temporary pay reductions of anywhere between 15-75 percent depending on seniority, to share the impact this is having on our business.
"I thank them for their sacrifice and in keeping the big picture in mind as we navigate this together, ” he said, referring to co-founder and AirAsia Group executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun.
“While we strongly encourage you to accept the credit which is instant and comes with a 365-day validity and allows you to change your flight date an unlimited number of times, we do accept requests for refunds on a case-by-case basis.
"However, due to the overwhelming number of requests that we have received, it may take a long process of between 12 to 16 weeks, ” he said.
Fernandes pointed that AirAsia is currently handling 10 times the normal volume of queries from customers or about 500,000 guests on a daily basis, adding that improvements are being made to the company’s virtual Allstar AVA, or its chatbot system, daily.
“We are working tirelessly around the clock to provide assistance to each and every one of you, ” he said, saying that the company has pulled in 1,800 staff from other functions who are volunteering to assist customers around the clock through its social media platforms on LiveChat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and WeChat.
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