MATTA urges to remove flight travel package from consumer tribunal jurisdiction

 Friday, April 28, 2023 


The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) reiterates its support for the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living’s statement that flight grievances should be referred to the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) rather than the Consumer Claims Tribunal.

The ministry recently stated that the issues should be reported to MAVCOM.  According to Section 99(1)(c) of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act 2015 (Act A1498), which was updated by Section 99(1) (ca), any issue relating to airline services is not within the tribunal’s jurisdiction as of March 1, 2016.

“To that end, MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang urge the Consumer Claims Tribunal to dismiss claims regarding flight tickets included in travel packages in order to be consistent with the Ministry’s position. Consumers should pursue charges against airlines for failures to provide refunds and related services rather than holding travel agents liable. Travel Agents must cease becoming victims of circumstance.” he added.

Travel packages given by travel agents are classified as services and are subject to the Consumer Protection Act 1999 [Act 599], which necessarily includes airliners services. However, since 2016, MAVCOM has utterly administered airline services and complaints.

“This has created difficulties for our industry players when dealing with these problems, notably airline-related issues involving unsatisfied customers who continue to file claims in the Consumer Tribunal for just only RM 5 each. How can we defend ourselves while the airlines are subject to a different set of rules?” explained Tan.

This “fundamental flaw” becomes apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic period, when travel companies are compelled by the Consumer Claims Tribunal to reimburse tour fares to consumers but airlines use credit payback methods to travel agencies.  Such rulings have resulted in severe financial ramifications for travel agencies, including the closure of their business.

“In the interest of fairness, we suggest that the Consumer Claims Tribunal analyse its past and pending cases in order to reflect the present business situation.  Moving ahead, we expect that the Consumer Claims Tribunal will transfer consumer and travel agency issues involving flight tickets to MAVCOM and separate these tour packages from the merchant category.” said Tan.

“Finally, the aforementioned and most recent scenario demonstrated the Fourth Schedule of the Tourism Industry Act 1992’s inadequacy and relevance or outdatedness. We have reached a point of no return, since this issue has been highlighted to multiple Federal Ministers of Tourism over the years without any positive results. These Ministers will tasked the Secretary General of the Tourism Ministry to table the necessary amendments but nothing comes out of it.” lamented Tan.

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