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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.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 – Search and Rescue

AirAsia Airbus A320 9M-AFN Side view
AirAsia Airbus A320 9M-AFN Side view

KUALA LUMPUR, December 29th 2014 – An Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 has lost contact from Indonesian air traffic controller yesterday morning (December 28th 2014) and is still missing as of 12:55 AM today.

Search and rescue process is underway. Listed below are countries that offer help or already helping with search and rescue process of Flight QZ 8501.

Summary: Many countries are offering help as of now. Indonesia is leading the search and rescue team. Search for Day 1 has been suspended after dusk because of lack of sunlight. Search will resume on Day 2 (Monday).

 

Search Update – Day 2 (December 29th 2014)

Updated on 11:14 AM

The search resumes after it was suspended the previous night. More nations are expection to join the search today.

Australia has deployed a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft to assist in search operations. The Australian air force and navy joined the search ops.

 

Australia

A P3 Orion aircraft is on standby to assist with search process.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also spoke with Indonesian President, Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to express his condolences of the incident and offer assistance as necessary. Foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop has confirmed that there are no Australians onboard. Nevertheless, she reiterated that Australia is offering support and assistance as necessary (source).

 

India

Pranav Kulkarni said Indian Navy keeps P8i maritime reconnaissance aircraft at INS Rajali. Three ships are also on standby for search and rescue.

 

Indonesia

Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency deployed seven ships and two helicopters to search the shores of Belitung and Kalimantan, shortly after the aircraft reported missing.

Indonesian Air Force Boeing 737 reconnaissance aircraft has also been sent to the last known location of Flight QZ 8501.

Indonesian Navy said it has dispatched four ships by the end of Day 1 of search operation.

Indonesian Army deployed ground troops to search at shores and mountans of adjacent islands.

 

Malaysia

Malaysia has set up a rescue coordination center in Subang and put three aircraft and three military vessels to assist in search and rescue operation.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Putrajaya will assist Indonesia AirAsia in finding the missing aircraft. The media statement was made during an event in Lipis, Pahang on December 28th 2014.

 

Singapore

Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) has initially deployed a C0130 Hercules aircraft for search and rescue process of Indonesia AirAsia QZ 8501. A Singaporean officer will be deployed to Jakarta to aid Indonesian authorities on search operation and two more C-130 Hercules will be deployed for search and rescue operation.

 

United States

No direct assistance is being offered as of now.

Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman told media that US President, Barack Obama has been briefed about the situation and White House officials will continue to monitor the progress.

Notes

  • Originally published on 1:13 AM, December 29th 2014
  • Updated on 11:14 AM, December 29th 2014
  • Revision 2

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 – Flight Path

Flightradar24 via its Twitter account @flightradar24 has published the flight path for AirAsia QZ 8501.

AirAsia QZ 8501 Flight Path - Picture from flightradar24.com
AirAsia QZ 8501 Flight Path – Picture from flightradar24.com

 

From the picture, we can see that the aircraft lost its ADS-B transmission while it is in cruise altitude and speed. This is quite unlikely as the aircraft is at the safest phase during cruise phase.

Indonesia AirAsia QZ 8501 is Malaysian or Indonesian?

AirAsia Airbus A320 9M-AFN Side view
AirAsia Airbus A320 9M-AFN Side view

Malaysia has already been hit by two major aviation disasters, namely Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 and Flight MH 17. AirAsia, the leading budget carrier of Asia starts operation in Malaysia. Therefore, the recent Indonesia AirAsia incident is also associated with Malaysia although it has very little connection with Malaysia / Malaysian government.

Indonesia AirAsia Ownership Information

Contrary to popular belief, AirAsia Berhad does not hold majority share in Indonesia AirAsia. This is because Indonesian law does not allow majority foreign ownership of domestic civil aviation operations.

 

Indonesia, not Malaysia

For Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ 8501, we must keep in mind of the following:

  • Flight QZ 8501 is an Indonesian aircraft, bound by Indonesian rules and regulations.
  • The flight also departed from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. The flight lost contact with Indonesian air traffic controller in Indonesian Airspace.

There is quite a number of internet users mistaken this as a Malaysian aircraft:

Comment on AirAsia Facebook page 141228 1712
Comment on AirAsia Facebook page 141228 1712

This one is taken on AirAsia Facebook page.

 

Comment on RT.com page 141228 1712
Comment on RT.com page 141228 1712

Another screenshot taken from Russian-based news portal also indicated the same sentiment.

We hope that news outlets should be more specific in reporting news to prevent false news and sentiments being raised, especially in light of two aviation disasters involving Malaysia before.

It is important for us to stop the blame game and let the respective government(s) and authorities focus on their investigation instead.

Nevertheless, AirAsia is one of the safest airline in the world with no prior incident with fatalities.