PETALING JAYA: AirAsia will retain all its staff despite the difficult times in the aviation industry because of the Covid-19 crisis but with pay cuts of between 15% and 75% depending on their seniority.
Its founder Tony Fernandes also encouraged the low-cost airline’s customers to accept credit for replacement flights instead of refunds for cancellations.
“It’s an uncertain time. Never could I have imagined it, no one could have predicted it and yet everyone has been touched by it. So I want to be open and transparent with you in this time of uncertainty,” the CEO of AirAsia Group said on his Instagram account.
“This is possibly the biggest challenge we have ever had to face. We have no revenue coming in, 96% of our fleet is grounded and we still have significant ongoing financial commitments such as fuel suppliers and leasing agents.”
Fernandes said AirAsia is one of the few airlines in the world to retain all its staff.
“AirAsia is a family and there are tens of thousands of Allstars who depend on the business for their livelihoods and the wellbeing of their own families,” he said.
He said he and group executive chairman Kamarudin Meranun will forgo their salaries during this period, and thanked the staff for accepting the pay cuts and their sacrifices “in keeping the big picture in mind as the low-cost carrier navigates this together”.
Fernandes apologised to customers affected by disruptions to their flight plans due to government restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“More than 80% of you have accepted our credit offer and we truly appreciate this,” he said, adding that the policy is in line with those of many operators in the travel industry and reflects AirAsia’s focus on “coming out of this difficult period and flying as soon as possible”.
He urged customers to accept the credit which comes with a 365-day validity and allows them to change flight dates for an unlimited number of times.
“We do accept requests for refund on a case by case basis. However, due to the overwhelming number of requests that we have received, it may take a long process of between 12 and 16 weeks,” he said.
Currently, he said, his team and its chatbot system AVA are handling 10 times the normal volume of queries, or about half a million guests on a daily basis.
“We are working tirelessly, around the clock, to provide assistance to each and every one of you. We’ve mobilised additional support to our customer happiness team, including 1,800 Allstars from other functions,” he said.
On March 26, AirAsia said it was temporarily suspending most of its 255-strong fleet across its network because of the pandemic.
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