KUALA LUMPUR – May 1, 2020: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has defended AirAsia Bhd against critics who downplayed the severe damage to Malaysia’s tourism industry in the event the budget airline is forced to cease operations.
Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang told The Mole today that it was “extremely negative and presumptuous” for anyone to assert that AirAsia’s probable demise due to the Covid-19 crisis will not be that big of an issue as other companies will eventually fill in the void.
“They have already resumed flights and started equipping [their frontliners] with appropriate PPEs (personal protective equipment) and requested passengers to adhere to the new norm of travel.
“We do hope that AirAsia will make it as one of the local carriers to survive Covid-19 as it has been instrumental in increasing visitor arrivals to the country,” said Tan, adding that budget air travel will still remain relevant due to affordable price tag offered by AirAsia.
Tan was responding to the claim of former Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abd Rahman who four days ago remarked that low-cost air travel will remain largely unaffected even if AirAsia were to close shop.
“While those of the aviation industry seem to say that gone were the days of low-cost carriers, budget air travel will be much sought after for price sensitivity among budget air travellers such as students and those of the lower-income group,” Tan said..
Two days ago, Bintulu member of parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing had also aired a similar rebuttal to Azharuddin’s remark, describing it as insensitive given how such an outcome will render many unemployed.
“How many families would lose their source of income? All these companies have been affected to some degree. Without them, our economic growth would be curtailed too as they provide interconnectivity to encourage business and commerce,” said Tiong.
AirAsia has resumed its flight, albeit on a lower frequency, on Wednesday after grounding all its planes on March 28 due to the Covid-19 crisis.