Airlines axe service as bans bite bookings

KUALA LUMPUR, 19 March 2020: Malindo Air has suspended all international services out of its Kuala Lumpur hub from 18 March to the end of the month.

In a statement released Tuesday, the airline said the decision was made in “anticipation of reduced capacity following a nationwide lockdown on travel to and from Malaysia that came into effect 18 March.

The order bars Malaysians from leaving the country and places restrictions on the entry of all tourists and foreign visitors into Malaysia.

Meanwhile, travel bans and restrictions have taken their toll on Singapore-based airlines.

SIA announced drastic cuts to its flight schedule, Tuesday, as more countries imposed border restrictions and European nations locked down ending all travel options.  In the case of the UK, the Foreign Secretary released a travel advisory that told citizens to avoid all non-essential travel globally.

SIA confirmed in an announcement 17 March that scheduled capacity would be slashed 50% up to the end of April.

The airline’s  CEO, Goh Choon Phong said: “Make no mistake – we expect the pace of this deterioration to accelerate. The SIA Group must be prepared for a prolonged period of difficulty.”

Singapore Airlines is waiving all rebooking fees for tickets issued on or before 15 March for travel up to 31 May 2020, with immediate effect. Customers can cancel their existing flight itineraries, retain the value of their tickets and rebook their travel at a later date when they are able to firm up their new travel plans. The new flight itinerary should be completed by 31 March 2021.

This new policy will allow customers the flexibility to defer their travel plans and applies to all bookings for travel up to 31 May 2020. All rebooking fees will be waived, although a fare difference may apply for the new itinerary.

But the airline has been inundated with requests and calls that jammed up its customer service centres forcing the airline to release a Customer Advisory on Facebook that sought to apologise and reassure passengers.

“We are experiencing an extremely high volume of customer enquiries at our services centres, reservations and sales offices, and social media channels.

“To allow us to first assist those with urgent bookings and flight changes, please only contact us if your flight is departing within the next 72 hours.

“For travel beyond the next 72 hours, customers may contact us closer to their trip or reach out to us via our online form “(https://www.singaporeair.com/request.form).

The drastic cuts to flights come just hours after Singapore expanded its travel restrictions to include travellers who have visited ASEAN countries, UK, Japan and Switzerland.

Another Singapore-based airline, Jetstar Asia, has cut all services for three weeks starting yesterday 18 March.