Government must have a long-term policy to protect the rights of consumers

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Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:

In order to holistically address the issue and avoid a continued repetition of constant rescheduling and delayed flights, the federal government through the Ministry of Transport and MAVCOM must have in place a long-term policy to ensure all airlines companies are kept accountable through proper enforcement and also to ensure the rights of consumers are better protected so that they can get the reasonable compensation in unavoidable cases.

While we understand and are sympathetic of the plight of the aviation industry that has been heavily hit for the past 2 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and support the necessary incentives and support for them to pick themselves up and secure this important industry, but it does not mean they have a “free-pass” to side-line the rights of the consumers which will caused not just inconvenience, but also significant economic loss to them.

That is why I propose 2 main actions that MUST be taken in order for this issue to be properly addressed holistically to better protect the consumers and the general public.

(1) First and foremost, the government must review all necessary laws and regulations to ensure it gives the required compensation to the consumers. We may need to amend the law that governs flight “delays” so that it also includes terminologies such as “rescheduled” “retimed” and other legal terminology related to making it mandatory for airlines to provide compensation to passengers.

Currently, there may be loopholes to the law. A simple check on the MAVCOM website, it is very clearly stated that only flight delays and cancellation is entitled to compensation.

Malaysian Consumer Protection Code Clause 12 also clearly states that only flight delays and cancellation are covered. The risk here is that airlines companies may get creative with terminologies and use terms such as “retimed” & “rescheduled” that may not be covered under the ambit of the law.

Also, we must ensure that ‘coverage of more than 6hrs delay’ does not only apply to those who have bought insurance.

That is why, the government may have to adopt the The EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation that was passed 2004 to better protect the consumers.
Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.
The regulation provides passengers with protection against travel disruption, and also serves as an incentive for the airlines to maintain a more punctual operation.

(2) MAVCOM and all aviation regulatory bodies must be pro-active to properly monitor and enforce the law against any aviation companies if they do not comply. A good law is only as good as its enforcement.

First and foremost, the airlines must be kept accountable to the flight schedule they have set and only be allowed a certain threshold of reasonable scheduling or delays.

MAVCOM must be constantly monitoring available data and flight schedules and once that threshold is crossed, MAVCOM must act immediately and keep the companies accountable.

They shouldn’t be only “fire-fighting” and  only react when there is a surge in public complaints and but instead be pro-active in addressing the issue. If the any industry is not kept accountable by regulators, they will continue doing the necessary to their advantage.

That is why I really urge the Government to address this issue holistically for the benefit of the consumers. Malaysians deserve better service and similar consumer protections. An “after the fact” apologies when the problem happens is not enough.

Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching
DAPSY National Chief