Govt looking at domestic airfare cap, says Abdul Aziz

Mavcom is conducting a survey, and may recommend putting a maximum on fares

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The government is contemplating ceiling prices for domestic flights following public complaints that fares have increased by up to five times the normal during public holidays.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) is conducting a survey, and may recommend putting a maximum on fares that can be charged by airlines to ensure a win-win situation between consumers and airline companies.

“The commision is making an effort to ensure that airfares remain affordable, especially for the flights between the Borneo states and Peninsular Malaysia.

“They (Mavcom) are completing a study to set ceiling prices on domestic flights which is expected to be finalised in June this year,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Abdul Aziz said the government and Mavcom generally do not set rules on flight fares, but complaints by passengers have warranted the study.

“We usually do not intervene as we allow airlines to set fares based on commercial decisions.

“However, due to the fact that complaints were received regarding high fares during the festive seasons, Mavcom was asked to conduct fare-pricing studies, which are expected to be completed by mid- 2018,” he said.

Abdul Aziz was responding to a query from Oscar Ling Chai Yew (Sibu-DAP) who asked about the government’s efforts to control the prices of airfares, especially during the festive seasons.

As an example, Ling said a one-way flight ticket from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah that would usually be priced at RM160 one-way, could cost between RM800 and RM1,000 during peak seasons.

“By right, Mavcom is the governmental body charged with monitoring airfares, especially during the peak periods of school holidays and festive seasons,” Ling said.

Abdul Aziz said commercial airfares are typically determined by several factors, including market demand, economic condition, fuel prices and operating costs.

“So, let Mavcom decide the right pricing scheme that will meet the requirement of both the citizens and industry players,” he said.

He also advised travellers to plan their trip early to avoid last-minute ticket purchases which are often more expensive.

“It is best to purchase your flight tickets as soon as possible because last minute purchases are undoubtedly highly priced,” Abdul Aziz said.

Replying to an additional question by Datuk Othman Abdul (Pendang-BN), Abdul Aziz said the government does not intend to set ceiling prices for international routes.

“We can assist in ensuring that the domestic flight tickets remain reasonable, however, international flights are not within the control of the government.

“Rest assured that Mavcom will investigate all complaints and ensure that such fare hikes be stopped and addressed,” Abdul Aziz said.