Malaysia Airlines suspends more flights, cancelling over 4,000 in all

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 18): Malaysia Airlines Bhd said that its airline will “significantly reduce its overall network” during the nationwide Movement Control Order from now until March 31.

In a statement today, it said the suspended flights include those to India (from March 17) and the Philippines (from March 21), on top of previously suspended services to Saudi Arabia, South Korea, as well as Beijing Daxing.

Another route from Kota Kinabalu to Shanghai is also suspended currently.

Additionally, Malaysia Airlines has also reduced capacity to Australia and New Zealand, due to self-isolation policy for the two countries.

“The situation has been rather fluid these past two days since we have had to make last-minute cancellations to abide by the restrictions,” said Malaysia Airlines group chief executive officer Captain Izham Ismail.

He pointed to the “uncoordinated approach”, which has posed “great challenges” to its operations.

“But we are doing our best to re-route passengers via reallocation onto other carriers. This is an added cost to our operations.

“We are also adjusting our low-load flights by cancelling and merging them to manage costs while managing our customer expectations.

“To date, we have cancelled more than 4,000 flights,” Izham added.

Meanwhile, Izham also encouraged passengers with bookings beyond the next 48 hours to initiate booking changes online via Malaysia Airlines’ Covid-19 waiver assistance form, available on its website.

He apologised to Malaysia Airlines passengers, as he explained that the airline’s Global Contact Centre has been “at the brunt of this situation” with the number of calls peaking at 25,000 daily and up to 2,000 emails daily in the past three weeks.

“We understand the situation is causing them anxiety concerning their bookings.

“I assure them that we are not here to take advantage of the situation — in fact we are one of the few airlines that have offered unlimited flexibility in travel date change and waiver of certain fees,” he said.

“It is just taking us a lot longer to process each request due to the volume of calls and emails.

“Changing bookings requires special expertise in the global booking system, therefore it takes time for us to redeploy staff to support our contact centre.

“Our ticket office in Nu Sentral is also closed from today following the nationwide closure of malls,” he added.

Due to the significant capacity cut, Malaysia Airlines and all sister companies under the Malaysia Aviation Group’s back office operations have also been reduced alongside flight and airport operations, the statement said.

“A majority of its workforce globally are working from home in line with various governments’ requirements to combat the spread of Covid-19. The group ensures that it continues to uphold the highest safety standards in its entire operations,” it added.