MAS still the preferred choice with minimal cancellations

A file photo taken on March 18, 2013 shows a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 plane flying over the Sukarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang.

PETALING JAYA - Checks with travel agencies in the Klang Valley show only minimal cancellations even with the recent MH17 tragedy.

A spokesman at a tour agency in Kepong said "it was business as usual" and that the incident did have a great impact on sales of their inbound and outbound trips.

"When MH370 disappeared, we were badly affected," he said. "Many customers called to cancel their bookings and our business went spiralling down.

"Some 40 per cent of our sales that month got cancelled. But we are lucky this time around," added the spokesman.

On Saturday, MAS has agreed to waive any change fees for passengers who wished to make amendments to their flight itineraries to any MH destinations.

MH17 is believed to have been shot down 50km from the Ukraine-Russia border. All 298 passengers and crew on board, including 44 Malaysians, perished in the mishap.

Another tour and travel agency that focuses on European tours, also noted that none of their customers cancelled their trips so far.

Al-Ilmi Travel & Tours spokesperson said they received calls from customers concerning advisory from international foreign ministries not to fly to Amsterdam.

"We do have passengers going to Amsterdam using MAS flights who wanted to cancel their flight, but they have yet to decide whether they will change plans," he said.

Malaysian Association of Travel Agents (MATTA) president Hamzah Rahmat said there were not many cancellation of flight bookings after the MH17 tragedy.

"Malaysians are strongly behind MAS this time," he said. "We are still in the midst of collecting data whether air travel sales have been affected."

Meanwhile, netizens continued to show their support for MAS despite its offer of refunds without penalties for any flight destination.

Urban, Wellbeing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan tweeted: "Today, my first time flying MAS after #MH17. No fear, no second thoughts. For this is my airline. My family. My nation's pride."

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri also tweeted: "YB, almost every alternate day I fly Kuching/KL/Kuching, MAS is still the best choice."

Sophie, who uses the tweet handle SimplyBieber said: "Malaysia Airlines offering full refunds to everyone who is travelling in the future is really generous considering it wasn't their fault."