Customers affected by flight cancellations by Singapore Airlines (SIA) or its budget arm Scoot due to the Covid-19 outbreak can now opt to get their money back or get travel credits with bonus value.
Previously, most affected customers were eligible only for refunds in the form of flight credits that covered the value of their tickets. The change in refund policy comes two weeks after SIA announced that it is aiming to raise $15 billion with support from its majority shareholder, Singapore's investment company Temasek.
In an update on its website on Thursday, SIA said: "We understand that many of our customers are concerned about their existing bookings.
"We have therefore further enhanced our travel waiver policy to offer even more flexibility when you are ready to travel with us once again."
It said its updated refund policy applies to affected SIA and SilkAir customers who bought tickets on or before March 15 for travel up till end-May.
Eligible customers who opt to get flight credits will get bonus credits based on the cabin class they booked previously. For example, those in economy class will get extra $75 in credits, while those in first class will get $500.
Scoot also announced a similar scheme on Thursday. Customers who made bookings on or before March 15 for flights departing between Jan 23 and May 31 but had their flights cancelled will now be able to get a refund either via their original mode of payment or in the form of Scoot vouchers with a 20 per cent bonus.
It had previously offered these customers a full refund through Scoot vouchers as the sole option.
Mr Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, said that while the move to offer more customers a monetary refund rather than vouchers would be costly, it was a small price to pay in the overall context. He said: "SIA's decision illustrates its empathy for those affected and reflects its improved financial standing, which has been shored up by Temasek.
"It's a wise move to engage sympathetically with customers; it puts the company in a firmer position when the industry recovers."