Malaysia transport minister Loke tells Batik Air to apologise, take responsibility for flight delay
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke has called on the management of low-cost airline Batik Air Malaysia to apologise to passengers after they were allegedly left stranded overnight at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Their flight to Kuching, Sarawak was delayed for about seven hours on Thursday (Dec 22) night.
Mr Loke was responding to a complaint by one of the affected passengers who had posted a video about his ordeal on Twitter.
Responding to Mr Firdaus Jailan on the social media site, Mr Loke said that he has since contacted the management of the airline, tagging @malindoair in his tweet. Batik Air Malaysia was previously known as Malindo Air until April this year.
“(The management) will reach out to all affected passengers to apologise and take responsibility (for the incident),” Mr Loke wrote on Monday night.
Mr Firdaus had taken to social media to air his grievances following the significant flight delay and had asked Mr Loke “to do something” about the airline operator.
Mr Firdaus alleged that the airline had treated its passengers “poorly” and had not prepared them for the situation, even after he had asked ground staff members if there were going to be multiple delays that evening.
“The flight was supposed to depart at 11.30pm. When I arrived at (the check-in counter), the staff member informed me the flight would be delayed to 2am. When they told me that … they reassured me that that was going to be the only delay,” Mr Firdaus said.
He then alleged that the flight was rescheduled to 6.35am on the airport departure board, with no indication that it was the previously delayed service.
“There’s not one staff member that can be seen here,” Mr Firdaus said as he pans his camera to show passengers sleeping on the benches near the departure gate.
As of Tuesday, Mr Firdaus’ video has received more than one million views on Twitter and more than 1,300 likes.
In a statement on Tuesday, Batik Air expressed regret over the delay in flight departures from KLIA last Thursday.
According to Bernama, the airline said that it will contact all of the affected passengers to give them "special complimentary vouchers".
The airline said the cause of the incident in still being investigated and deeply regrets the inconvenience caused to its passengers and their families.
It further added that food vouchers were given to those affected during the delay but no food outlets were open past midnight at the terminal, while accommodation was unable to be provided due to hotels being fully booked.
In June, the Malaysian Aviation Commission said that almost 500 flights were delayed during the Hari Raya Puasa festive period the previous month.
The Star reported that then-transport minister Wee Ka Siong said the flight delays should not be treated as normal as there were implications for such actions.
“Punctuality is very important. We need to protect the rights of consumers. If travellers bought tickets to a destination which required a connecting flight, a delay would disrupt their travel plans,” Dr Wee said then.
In one of the higher profile complaints of a flight delay, Sabah’s Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau wrote on Twitter in May, that he had experienced several flight delays with low-cost carrier AirAsia.
Mr Wilfred said then that his 8pm flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu had been rescheduled to 10pm and then 12.30am. Mr Wilfred was then put on a different flight at 11.10pm after speaking to an officer, but even the new flight was delayed as well.