AirAsia apologises for ground crew's rough handling of bicycles in viral video

A Facebook user uploaded the video which appeared to have been filmed from inside the plane where the baggage was being unloaded.
A Facebook user uploaded the video which appeared to have been filmed from inside the plane where the baggage was being unloaded.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK/FEN LIM

PETALING JAYA - Low-cost carrier AirAsia apologised on Thursday (March 22) after two ground workers were caught tossing baggage believed to contain bicycles off a ramp onto the ground in a video that has gone viral.

A Facebook user by the name Fen Lim uploaded the video on Wednesday which appeared to have been filmed from inside the plane where the baggage was being unloaded. The video was accompanied by a photo apparently showing a damaged bicycle.

Ms Lim was flying from Kaohsiung International Airport in southern Taiwan to Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

"Thanks AirAsia.. you broke my bike. This was filmed while we were still seated in our flight AK171 from Kaohsiung to KLIA2," Ms Lim wrote.

The 30-second Facebook posting had over 16,000 shares in less than a day.

AirAsia's top executives reacted on Thursday to the complaint, with CEO Riad Asmat saying the budget airline will waive all fees to transport bicycles in April.

"As a cyclist myself, I was pretty disturbed when I saw the actions of our staff. Rest assured, we've taken action. We are looking into the matter very seriously and stern action will be taken accordingly," said Mr Riad, who joined the company in January.

"I hope we will continue to improve ourselves. Attention has been put into this particular example," he added.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes reposted Ms Lim's video and said the ground handling company is a joint venture called GTR.

"But we take full responsibility. After meeting all my ramp boys and girls I'm really disappointed," Mr Fernandes wrote on Facebook.

"We are a company that if we make a mistake we stand up and take the heat. We will get better. Apologises."

Mr Fernandes later replied to a comment on the posting which suggested that the airline should review its manual handling policy for heavy items.

"Was not heavy but we are looking into that point. We do carry hundreds of cycles. First error but wrong," Mr Fernandes wrote.

The airline's response did not fall on deaf ears. Ms Lim on Thursday wrote on Facebook: "Thank you Tan Sri Tony Fernandes for acknowledging and taking actions."

Manhandling of bags by ramp staff is a common problem at airports worldwide.

In a video uploaded on Facebook on Feb 15, Mr Fernandes was seen telling his staff to take extra care in handling check-in luggage, the New Straits Times reported.

"Please look after bags better, OK? Every day I got someone e-mailing me about bags," the AirAsia boss said in the video.

"Don't throw the bags anymore, kiss the bags," he said.