Parliament: Airfares to return to 2019 average by November

by BERNAMA/ pic by TMR FILE

FLIGHT ticket prices are expected to return to the 2019 average by this November after airline operations resume at their actual capacity, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said, based on Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) analysis, the matter would however depend on the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

He said to fully recover from  COVID-19 impact, the airline companies would need 18 months for domestic routes and three years for the international sector.

“According to the airlines, although the government has decided on giving an exemption from social distancing rule onboard the aircraft, flight ticket prices will not necessarily drop immediately.

“Airlines need to ensure that there is a continuous and stable demand, before fares can return to normal levels as before the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said in reply to a question from Lukanisman Awang Sauni (GPS-Sibuti), on the increased fares for flights between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

He said MAVCOM was also instructed to carry out continuous monitoring on fares being charged and to have engagement sessions with the airlines concerned, to ensure competitive pricing.

Wee said, following MAVCOM monitoring it was found that between June 2 to July 8, airfares for flights from the Peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak, showed a downward trend as compared to May.

“By July 2020, it  was found that fares continued to be stable almost reaching the average price offered in 2019.

“For example, one-way airfare for Kuala Lumpur-Kuching route is between RM200 and RM400, as compared to over RM1,000 in June 2020,” he said.

In reply to a supplementary question on the number of cancelled flights and passengers affected, Wee said, from January to June last year, a total of 169,728 domestic and international flights were canceled, involving three national airlines namely AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Malindo.

He said as a result, 4.316 million passengers were affected.