by AUFA MARDHIAH / pic by BLOOMBERG
TRANSPORT Minister, Datuk Seri Ir. Dr. Wee Ka Siong will investigate the validity of complaints reported following the issue of sudden increase in airfare prices between Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak for the upcoming Aidilfitri.
The Minister said that the airfares on April 30, 2022 (peak travel date for the Aidilfitri festive season) have increased compared to the average airfares in 2019, as reported by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM).
This increase is due to several factors – increased operating costs, especially rising jet fuel prices, as well as limited resources for the airline to increase its full capacity.
Airlines are also having trouble increasing flight capacity immediately due to COVID-19; as well as the aircraft must go through a process of maintenance, repair and overhaul or MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) before being approved for service purposes; and because airlines need more time and replacement tools for re -operation readiness.
The dynamic pricing mechanism also uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the process of determining the fare price and not manually as claimed.
For April 2022, the frequency of flights to Sabah and Sarawak is still low at only 68.0% compared to 2019 (pre -pandemic).
Wee chaired a special meeting yesterday involving the MOT, MAVCOM, Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) and domestic airlines to find the best solution in addressing the problems and complaints.
“I have asked MAVCOM and the airlines to immediately conduct a detailed and thorough investigation on the issue of the increase in air fares during this festive season,” he said.
“MAVCOM, CAAM and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) are ready to consider and approve the applications of airlines to increase the frequency of flights, the operation of air traffic control services as well as extend the operating hours of the airport during this and upcoming festive season.
CAAM has already approved the necessary extension of the operating hours of air traffic control services at airports. This will assist the airlines in planning for capacity additions especially ahead of the festive season,” he added.
The establishment of domestic air fares by national airlines is based on the rationalisation of the domestic air services sector in 2006 whereby the Cabinet had decided that national airlines providing domestic air services were given the freedom to determine network coverage, flight frequency and fares to be offered based on market demand at the time.
In this regard, the Cabinet at the time had decided that national airlines providing domestic air services were given the freedom to determine network coverage, flight frequency and fares to be offered based on market demand.
This is in line with the practice of most other countries which do not regulate airfares for international or domestic routes. Although ceiling prices can lower airfares during the season peak, however it will lead to an increase in airfares during the regular season.
He also assured that the Ministry Transportation (MOT) through MAVCOM will inform the public of the outcome of discussions with all airlines in the near future, saying, “We are committed and will make every effort to reduce air fares to alleviate the burden borne by the people.”
Meanwhile, he also thanked the Premier of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg; Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Bin Noor; and Deputy Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Bung Mokhtar Radin who has voiced the grievances of Sarawak and Sabah people for MOT’s action.