MH17 victims being returned with dignity from crash site for identification

The delays on the part of Malaysia’s two major airline brands in meeting their obligations to the relatives of the dead in the MH370 and MH17 disasters and the constant evasions from AirAsia X in refunding monies owed for flights it failed to operate are continuing to damage their standing in Australia.

The latest installment is reported in painful detail in the Fairfax Media this morning in relation to the destruction of a second of its Boeing 777-200ERs operating MH17 across Ukraine airspace with the loss of 298 lives on 17 July last year.

This comes only weeks after AirAsia X said it was taking up to three months to compensate or refund the fares of those who were displaced by its failure to meet Australian safety requirements in time to begin Melbourne-Denpasar services just before Christmas as scheduled.

AirAsia X claimed the delays were caused by the crash of an AirAsia flight (a different operation carrying the same brand) between Surabaya and Singapore  on 28 December with the loss of 162 lives.

That was a disgraceful and untrue excuse and AirAsia X has refused to reconsider its great sense of style and dignity in blaming its dead on a different AirAsia franchise for its inability to pay monies owed in a timely manner in this country.

Instead its founder and group CEO Tony Fernandes came to an Australian press conference to announce that its loss making operations with AirAsia X in this country would expand with the delayed operation of the Melbourne-Denpasar flights.

On that timetable it will resume those flights weeks before it has refunded lost fares and dealt with other compensation claims for the earlier services it never flew, in addition to its prolonged inability or unwillingness to refund fares arising from the cancellation of Adelaide-Kuala Lumpur services.

It’s not clear who is advising Mr Fernandes about the realities of consumer relations and responsibilities in this country, not to mention getting its safety approvals in order well before its advertised start up, but he ought to be asking for his money back.

The problems for Malaysia Airlines in meeting is separate obligations are considerable, but if as the Fairfax report indicates, it is trying to evade the provisions, modest though they are, of the Montreal Convention, it may as well give up even thinking of re-establishing its previous standing in this country as an airline of notable quality.

Any suggestion that it is attempting to screw the immediate family or relatives of the 298 people who were killed in the MH17 shoot down, or by inference, the 239 declared dead on missing flight MH370 will bring enduring shame on it.

How the Australian government reacts to these developments will be very important.

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