KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government should put a cap on domestic airfares to a maximum of RM500 one way immediately, said Sabah Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) Chairman, Tan Sri David Chu.
“It is ridiculous that one-way economy flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu is selling about RM1,900 during the period before Hari Raya while flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta is much cheaper. A day ago I booked a ticket for my brother for Perth-Kuala Lumpur-Kota Kinabalu was less than RM2,000.
“If the Federal Government, through the Transport Ministry, does not step in, it would reflect badly on Putrajaya that they are insensitive to the problems faced by the people, especially Sabahans who want to come back to celebrate Hari Raya with their families after not being able to do so the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“The airlines got to admit that the air ticket prices for a KL-KK-KL trip costs about RM4,000 is just crazy,” he said,
Chu said he does not understand why local airlines are charging such exorbitant ticket prices when during non-festive season they can offer a one-way ticket from KL-KK between RM150 and RM200.
He said the Transport Ministry should not remain silent as even Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, among leaders from Sabah and Sarawak, who have voiced out their unhappiness over the steep air ticket prices.
“The Transport Ministry should reprimand the airlines and set a cap on domestic air ticket prices or else come every festive season, this problem will occur,” he said, supporting the statements by Hajiji and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Bung Mokhtar who both urged the Federal Government to step in to the reduce the airfares.
Chu said Sabahans and Sarawakians should not be made to pay the price for the losses suffered by airlines during the pandemic.
“I understand that airlines would want to recoup what they lost during the pandemic but Sabahans and Sarawakians should not be burdened by the steep increase. A minimal increase is understandable but not a ridiculous hike of 566 per cent,” he said.
He said local airlines should not only reduce ticket prices but also mount more flights to Sabah.
“Adding more flights with reasonable prices will also help local airlines increase their profits in the long run as people will travel all time of the year,” he said.
Chu said maybe it is time for the Sabah and Sarawak state governments to look into jointly form an airline.
“Sabah and Sarawak jointly have an airline will go a long way not only in helping the people enjoy cheap ticket prices but also boost tourism and keep the present local airlines on their toes,” he said.
Chu said a Sabah-Sarawak airline also makes good business sense as Jakarta is shifting their capital to Kalimantan.
“The joint airline can also serve the BIMP-EAGA market which is huge. Now, we are at the mercy of the local airlines to open up new routes,” he said.
Chu hopes both state governments would seriously look into the proposal.
“If the present local airlines are not sensitive, let us not waste time with them and do it our own way,” he said.