The airline said that all pre-booked passengers may “change or cancel their tickets without financial penalty until Thursday 24 July 2014 for travel throughout the rest of the year…including for non-refundable tickets.”has offered a full ticket refund to all passengers opting not to fly the airline, irrespective of the ticket type they hold, following the shootdown of flight MH17 last week.
Coming just a few months after the disappearance of MH370 which saw bookings from China alone slump by 60%, the financial fallout is likely to be severe. The crash is adding to the airline’s financial woes that are already forcing its shareholders to decide on ways to recapitalize the airline. Shareholders had planned to convene for a decision in July to pave a way forward for the struggling carrier. A government-controlled fund could take full control of the airline as a consequence.
In the same way that the airline changed the MH370 Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight from MH370 to MH618, the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur service will be re-labelled MH19 from July 25, “out of respect for our crew and passengers of the mentioned flight code,” said the airline.
The airline dispatched an emergency team of over 200 specialists and observers to Amsterdam at the weekend, of which 80 care givers and a management team remained in Amsterdam to give assistance to MH17 passengers’ family members.
Some 85 ‘Go Team’ emergency response specialists from Malaysia have been deployed to Ukraine, including experts from Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport, the National Security Council, Department of Information, the Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Special Air Service, the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Malaysian Armed Forces, Department of Civil Aviation and the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team.
Five members of Malaysia’s Special Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Smart) expected to be flown immediately to assist in the search-and-recovery mission at the crash, but as yet they have not been able to access the site in the eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, which is reportedly being cordoned off by separatist rebels.
Malaysian Minister of Transport, Liow Tiong Lai expressed “deep concern” that the crash site had not been properly secured, saying that in his view, “the integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place.”
Liow added that interfering with the scene of the crash risked undermining the integrity of the investigation, and that actions that prevented Malaysia from learning the truth about the crash “cannot be tolerated.” He called for all parties including rebels and Ukraine government representatives to help facilitate and speed up the investigation.