BERITA DAILY LETTER: From Darshan Singh Dhillon, via e-mail

The advent of low-cost of carriers commonly known as budget airlines has transformed the concept of travelling. Once a privilege of some and now everyone can fly.

Indeed, the flourishing aviation sector had much trade-off for Malaysia’s wider economic development.

The influx of tourists is a cornerstone for many to enjoy improved livelihoods, especially those leveraging on the tourism industry, and for us consumers, an opportunity to reap fruits resulting from competition among airlines, making air-space travel affordable.

In the Malaysian context, we should all be proud to be home to the most successful budget airlines, winning Best Low Cost Carrier (LCC) in the world for nine years in a row.

Since its inception in 2001, AirAsia has indeed transformed the way we travel, apt to its tagline ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’, but some recent unfortunate incidents suffers by its aircraft has to an extent affected consumers’ confidence.

Worth asking if it is right to demonise AirAsia for these incidents which are isolated. No individual or corporation would want to endure an incident such as the recent Perth-Kuala Lumpur flight where one of its engine suffered failure.

Kudos to the pilots who must have operated under severe stress, ensuring passenger safety. In addition to their professionalism in controlling the distressed aircraft, the Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM) sees no harm in seeking divine intervention for additional support.

Let us not mock the pilot who made that on-board announcement but give him a huge pat on his back for a job well done as he deserves national honours for saving lives.

Undeniably, air transport is the safest mode of travel but it is incumbent on airlines operators, both budget or otherwise, to ensure strict compliance of maintenance and safety standards procedures, with best training made available for pilots.

AirAsia management must get to the rootcause of the technical failure issue and ensure that such an incident does not reoccur. The concern and fear of consumers is justifiable as thousands of feet above ground, there is only little hope for survival should a technical failure occur.

While competition brings great benefits to consumers, too much of it may tempt unethical compromise in standards. It is an equal responsibility of the Department of Civil Aviation to ensure that regular audits are made to ensure airline operators maintain high standards of compliance.

As for AirAsia and its team, keep flying people and contribute to the nation!

Darshan Singh Dhillon is president of Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM)

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