AirAsia Wheelchair Fee: Is It Still Relevant?

AirAsia 9M-AHS-2014-10-14-07-19-59
AirAsia 9M-AHS-2014-10-14-07-19-59

Recently, Tony Fernandes announced three Malaysian Paralympic athletes will be getting free flights for life. In case if you missed it, Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi, Mohamad Ziyad Zolkefli and Abdul Latif Romli won Gold medals during Paralympics Rio 2016.

Our paralympic athletes begin to get more coverage in mainstream media, especially after Ridzuan Puzi’s victory last year during IPC World Championships at Doha, Qatar.

Minister of Youth and Sports, YB Khairy Jamaluddin also expressed his satisfaction with the victory in his social media channels, Facebook as well as Twitter. He said when he was just starting work as the minister, paralympic athletes were only eligible up to 30% of the original reward amount than what “normal” athletes would get. Using his capacity has a minister as well as chairman of National Sports Council (Majlis Sukan Negara, MSN), he instructed his subordinates to arrange for same reward amount for athletes with disabilities and able-bodied ones.

 

Unfortunately, people with disabilities need to pay more when they board AirAsia. The image above (taken on 12 September 2016) shows RM 127.20 charge if you “book” wheelchair services in Kuala Lumpur – Kuching flight at the counter. If you book it in advance, you will end up paying 50% less than the counter rate. Abolishing the fee is the best way to show that AirAsia does not only care towards para athletes but also everyone else with disabilities.

Definitely Tony is doing good PR for the company in promoting free flights for the para athletes but given the amount of monthly allowance that they will be getting, we can guess that paying for flights will no longer be a major problem for them. Instead, we have a huge number of other people with disabilities who are having difficulty sparing extra money for the wheelchair fee.

Wheelchair-bound people have never asked to be in that condition. They are already having difficulty in navigating the airport, yet we want to add exorbitant fees to their fare. We shall be more aware of their predicaments in daily life. We ought to make their flight easier.

“Now, everyone can fly”.

October 30th 2017 Update: Read our follow-up post here.

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Because who cares about safety or risk management?

On March 8th 2014, a Malaysian-registered Boeing 777 aircraft with registration 9M-MRO turned off its transponder after 1:21 AM, thus disabling itself from being detected by secondary radar, which is used by air traffic controllers to detect movements of aircraft.

The aircraft made few turns and altitude adjustments and all of the movements can be seen with primary radar, which is not used by air traffic controllers.

If we see 9M-MRO as a potential safety hazard, we would scramble our fighter jets to be near with the aircraft and take necessary steps to force it to land.

Because the aircraft could hit densely-populated areas like KL. Or it might be heading to an unknown place, like Southern Indian ocean.

In a report by Malaysia Ministry of Transport, data from primary radar was made available to them.

However, no information is given on why we did not treat 9M-MRO as potential safety hazard. It is a civilian aircraft. WTC at New York has collapsed in September 2001 after being hit by two civilian aircraft.

Report from MOT shows that our primary radar(s) is working.

Is there anyone monitoring it in case of any civilian aircraft illegally deviated from original route without any apparent safety concern, such as bad weather? We are (relatively) lucky because 9M-MRO did not hit densely-populated areas. However, until today, we still do not know where is the aircraft and what happened to those onboard.

Two military aircaft engines were lost in May 2008. Two years later, we learned the engines are not in Malaysia anymore. It took us two years to know current location of the engines.

Perhaps someone in RMAF can answer the question in bold type for us. Maybe it is classified to reveal radar capability to public, but our action/inaction on March 8th 2014 has indicated how serious we are in dealing with potential risk.

When will we learn?

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