MAS should set up an independent committee to study public complaints about the quality of its service and to make recommendations to give top priority to passenger convenience and satisfaction

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): MAS passengers are very unhappy with the failure of the national airline to attend to their long-standing complaints and grievances about its service, which had failed to give top priority to passengers convenience and satisfaction.

One perennial complaint of passengers is MAS flight delays, not only about its increasing frequency reflecting poor maintenance to ensure that the MAS aircraft are always in tip-top condition, but the manner in which MAS passengers are kept in the dark about these delays, particularly as to when the flights concerned would be able to depart.

The two-hour-twenty-minute delay of MAS flight MH1143 from Penang to Kuala Lumpur this morning is one good example.

At about 10.15am, passengers waiting at the Penang Airport departure hall were informed that the flight had been re-timed to depart at 11.15am.

However the passengers were kept in the dark as to whether the re-timed departure at 11.15am would hold, and as minutes ticked towards and after 11.15am, the passengers were not informed of the latest position until about 11.30am that the departure had again been re-timed to 12.15pm.

MAS should be aware that all its passengers would have their plans, appointments and even onward flight connections which would be disrupted by any flight delays, and that they would all be very anxious to know whether the flight would take off as re-timed, as they would otherwise have to make alternative arrangements either through their handphones or public phones.

There can be no reason why MAS passengers could not be informed 10 or 15 minutes beforehand whether the re-timed departure was likely to take off so as to enable passengers to make alternative arrangements.

I can understand when the delay is the result of mechanical fault, MAS may not be able to predict with certainty whether the flight would take off as re-timed or shortly thereafter.

The passengers, however, have the right to be informed before hand whether there would be another delay, or the possibility of another delay (with the clear warning that passengers should wait for the confirmatory announcement before they leave the departure hall or face the risk of the plane leaving without them later).

In the case of MH1143, there can be no reason or excuse for MAS not to let the waiting passengers know well before-hand that the re-timed departure at 11.15am could not be met.

This was because MAS engineers were waiting for a spare part to be flown in from Kuala Lumpur to repair the mechanical fault.

The spare part was flown into Penang from an incoming flight from KL at 11.55am.

MAS knew therefore well before 11.15am that there was no way MH1143 would take off at 11.15am, and it was most remiss on its part not to inform the waiting passengers at the first available opportunity – only informing the passengers that re-timed 11.15am departure could not be met at about 11.30am!

In the event, MH1143 did not take off from Penang Airport until 12.50pm, and touched down at the Subang Airport at 1.40pm.

But in Kuala Lumpur Airport, those who were waiting for passengers who were scheduled to come in by MH1143, were not informed of the departure of the plane from Penang, and enquiries at the information counter at 1.05pm were told that MH1143 have not yet departed from Penang Airport, and the information board showing incoming flight information was still indicating ‘Re-time’ for MH1143, until five minutes before the plane touched down at Subang International Airport when it suddenly changed into ‘Landed’ at 1.35pm!

The whole handling of informing passengers about the flight delay and the re-timing of the departure is most unsatisfactory and unacceptable for a national airline which gives top priority to passengers convenience and satisfaction.

MAS must ensure henceforth that all passengers are informed of delays, whether the original departure time or the re-timed schedule, well before hand to allow passengers to make alternative arrangements as a result of the disruption caused by MAS.

In fact, MAS should be more open and informative and should publicly announce the cause of every delay.

MAS imposes a 25% fine on passengers who cancel booking within 24 hours of their flight.

Shouldn’t MAS be fair and reciprocate for the inconvenience caused to passengers as a result of MAS delays, for whatever reason, unless they are acts of God.

MAS should set up an independent committee to study public complaints about the quality of its service and to make recommendations to give top priority to passenger convenience and satisfaction.

I am prepared to volunteer my service to MAS in such an independent review committee to upgrade the quality of its service and to be passenger-friendly.

It is most ridiculous for MAS to slap a RM80 million defamation suit on the Deputy Minister for Human Resources, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir on the deterioration of MAS services, and it was wise on the part of MAS chairman Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli to withdraw the suit.

Is MAS prepared to compensate MAS passengers to the sum of RM80 million for its failure to give top priority to passenger convenience and satisfaction?


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong