This should go down as one of this year's crappiest reports. It speaks for the aggrieved travel agencies, at most, who're losing out on their bucks owing to Air Asia.Air Asia accused of leaving passengers in the lurch
A Z M Anas
Air Asia is exploiting passengers' purse as top Asian budget carrier sells online tickets via credit cards, giving travellers no option of a change in travel plan, nor refunds, travel traders have alleged.
The Kuala Lumpur-based airliner, which sells 90 per cent of its air tickets through credit cards and sky agents, is also suspected of evading taxes, aided by electronic system, according to local travel agencies.
They note that the foreign carrier is making off with unknown, but significant windfall behind the backs of Bangladeshi regulators including Revenue Board.
"The low-cost carrier remains least sensitive to travellers' needs," head of Saimon Overseas M. A. Muhaimin Saleh said Monday.
"Its business practice is messy, and questionable. I think, the government should no longer allow any foreign airline to sell tickets online," he added.
Mr Saleh, who also leads 1400-members Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh, alleged that they were flooded with myriads complaints from the travellers who get no support from Air Asia.
Sky Bangla Aviation Ltd, a Dhaka-based authorised dealer, declined to make comments.
An official of the agency, however, privately admitted that it received different kinds of requests totalling 100 from Kuala Lumpur-bound passengers last month.
"All of them purchased tickets online using credit cards," he said, without elaborating.
"I failed to change travel timing. Even I was ready to pay additional amount. It's frustrating," said a Bangladeshi passenger who lives in the Malaysian capital city.
While Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia operates in Bangladesh through a General Sales Agent (GSA), industry sources said Air Asia has tapped Sky Bangla just as a dealer, picking no GSA.
The sources said the Malaysian airliner also allowed a handful of sky agents for ticket sale, who are beyond the purview of the government agencies. A sky agent has secured a password from the airline's headquarters by depositing certain amounts.
"No body knows how a sky agent routes sales proceeds to Air Asia," a source said.
Since the airline's operations have drawn little scrutiny, Golam Mostafa, who owns Union Travels, said it is reluctant to operate through a GSA.
Local travel firms also accused Air Asia of underreporting passengers and revenue details, giving it an undue edge over its main competitors.
Including embarkation fees, passengers travelling by Air Asia are supposed to pay Tk 2300 as travel taxes for flying to KL, its operating hub.
At 80 per cent average flight occupancy, travel traders figured out that the malpractice by KL-based airline would cost the government Tk 190 million in revenue losses a year.
The ATAB chief said that the online ticket sales not only eat up travel agencies' earnings, but gives the airline an opportunity to dodge taxes.
The price of each ticket, if snapped up online, is deposited directly to Air Asia's bank accounts, leaving the foreign currency transaction untraced by the government agencies and the central bank as well, said Mr Mostafa.
Air Asia's case provides a "rare glimpse" into how it games the system, thus depriving the government of significant taxes.
Khandakar Muzharul Haque, an executive director of the Bangladesh Bank, had earlier said he was not aware of the business practice of the low-fare carrier and would look into the Air Asia's case.
Air Asia operates 300-plus seater A-320 Airbus flights daily between KL and Dhaka, its 62nd destination.
Each week, an estimated 10,000 passengers fly between Dhaka and the Malaysian capital, making it Bangladesh's major air route.
The Malaysian airline's entry to the Dhaka-KL route has already unleashed a wave of fare war as it has offered ticket prices 40 per cent cheaper than legacy operators.
Travel agencies are not opposed to the operations of low-cost carriers like Air Asia in the Bangladesh market, Mr Mostafa said, adding the airline should do business in a proper way.
"Passengers, especially migrant workers and students, benefit from low fares. But the airline also needs to make sure it pays taxes to the government," he said.
Air Asia serves over 100 routes covering 62 destinations across Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, China, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.
The airline, which posted US$ 135 million in losses in 2008 financial year, has carried over 50 million passengers since its inception in 2001.
- And a 300-plus seater A320? Now, what would it take for me to see one like that...would a couple of bottle of JD suffice??
2) 300 plus on A320? reporter is doing same mistake over and over again.
I think the reporter would have meant about two wayAir Asia operates 300-plus seater A-320 Airbus flights daily between KL and Dhaka, its 62nd destination.
That's ridiculous. By saying "300-plus seater A320"...he couldn't possibly be implying added capacity of the two legs! What is more possible for him to have assumed is Airbus A320 = 320 seats...voila!I think the reporter would have meant about two way
i.e. KL-Dhaka - 189 seats
Dhaka-KL - 189 seats
Totally 378 seat on both the routes
Perhaps inspired by the Kyrgyz airline called Trast-Aero who, while having a fleet of 1x BAC 1-11, 1x B707, and 1x IL-18, has a picture of the B787 behind its name-logo on their website!i had a look at zooms airline website. it seems really tacky. why do they a picture of the Liquidated airline Zooms airlines?
That Bagerhat district airport is actually Khan Jahan Ali (Khulna) airport, if I'm not mistaken. I don't think there will ever be an airport on St.Martin's, nor should there be. As it is the pristine ecology may already be compromised if tourism on that island is not curb/controlled.looking at CAAB's website i noticed that Bangladesh gettin another airport in The Bagerhat district. do they really need a airport there?
I am not sure if anyone here has been to St Martins or Marten. i think st marteens can attract many tourist from around the world all it needs is a few decent hotel and a airport. do u not think St Marten can do with a Airport. shouldnt CAAB or MoCAT do something.