by AZREEN HANI / Pic by TMR FILE PIX
TRANSPORT minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong tells airlines and relevant parties to take immediate actions to lower air fares for travelers without the need for the Federal Government and its agencies to unduly intervene in the operations of these enterprises.
He said the Government acknowledges the concerns and feedback raised by the public over exorbitant airfares ahead of the upcoming holiday season this year end and early 2022. Specifically, many travelers have expressed outrage over unusually high air fares to Sarawak.
“The Government also reminds all industry players to refrain from hiking air fares to address wide public perception that this is being done by airlines to recoup losses due to the pandemic,” Wee said in a statement today.
On this matter, he said the Ministry of Transport (MOT) had actively engaged with industry players and state governments including Sarawak to increase the frequency of flights to all destinations against the backdrop of the ongoing efforts to contain Covid-19 nationwide.
“As I have noted in my statements on 3rd and 6th November 2021, much of the solution comes with removing frequency restrictions on airlines to fly to various states. In doing so, air fares would then be dictated by market-driven dynamic pricing mechanism, which take into account supply and demand, economic conditions, fuel costs, and other operational factors among others,” Wee explained.
In this spirit, he said the MOT had written to the Sarawak Minister of Transport Yang Berhormat Datuk Lee Kim Shin on November 18 2021 to request that the State Government return the decisions of regulating air passenger service frequencies to the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM).
“Although the MOT fully understands and aligns with Sarawak’s need to contain Covid-19, state governments and their related agencies must do their part to let market supply and demand prevail and fully allow airlines to increase their air passenger service frequencies based on market-driven operational consideration,” Wee said.
“Therefore, based on yesterday’s Cabinet decision, MOT has called Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo to a meeting to stress the need to actively reduce airfares in order to allow more people to enjoy lower air fares during this year end period.”
According to the minister, following this meeting, Malaysia Airlines has pledged to add additional flights to Sarawak in December, which should result in reduction in fares to the state.
The Malaysia Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) and Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) are also prepared to approve more flight frequencies.
The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and Sarawak Ministry of Transport had decided to increase the frequency of flights from 223 to 307 flights weekly into Sarawak to Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, AirAsia, Malindo, and Scoot (Singapore), starting 4 December 2021 to 5 January 2022.
“We hope that the State Government would expeditiously bring the number back up to 502, as it was before the pandemic impacted air travel,” the minister said.