KUCHING: The decision by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to restore full-capacity flights to and from Sarawak has been welcomed by the public, who now hope that this will translate into lower air fares.
Civil servant Azlan Mohamed, 33, said with flight tickets from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur currently costing more than RM2,000 for a return trip, he is putting off visiting his sister in the nation’s capital until prices have gone down.
“I usually visit her once every three months. With airlines now running more flights and allowed to do so at full capacity, I hope prices will go back to normal soon,” he said.
He added that he had compared prices online and found that a one-way Kuching-Singapore ticket for October was only RM85, compared to RM260 for a one-way Kuching-Kuala Lumpur ticket for the same period.
“If this is the case, I might as well go on holiday to Singapore in October instead. Hopefully the international borders have reopened by then.”
For author Malcolm Mejin, he said a reduction in air fares would enable him to resume his book tours in Peninsular Malaysia.
Currently back here with his family, the 34-year-old said several book tours arranged for the end of March could not be carried out due the implementation of the Movement Control Order on March 18.
“Who doesn’t want the flight fares to return to normal? If you’re talking about domestic travel for leisure, most people would look at the affordability of the fares before booking. If it’s too expensive, it may turn people off.
“With the economy being battered by this Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment rates are on the rise. I don’t think this current situation will encourage people to fly if the tickets are priced exorbitantly,” he said.
Meanwhile, operations manager Ong Wei Ling said he is waiting for the time when ticket prices have ‘normalised’ to go back to his home state of Kedah to visit his family.
“I have not been back since February and I miss them dearly. I miss my mum and her cooking. She makes the best ‘bak chang’ and I cannot wait to have it when I go home,” he said, adding that he hopes ticket prices will have gone down by next month.
Sarawakian Anasathia Jenis said she too cannot wait to see her family, having put off plans to return to the state due to the “sky-high” air fares.
The Bernama journalist, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, said she had initially planned to return home at the start of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), but changed her plan after seeing the costly fares.
“I was happy when it was announced that inter-state travel would be allowed under the RMCO, but my mood changed when I saw how much it would cost to fly back.
“I mean it’s ridiculous how expensive the tickets have become. I hope prices will go down soon now that airlines can operate flights at full capacity,” said the 35-year-old, who has not been back to her hometown for the past several months.
On Wednesday, SDMC announced that it had approved full flight capacity between Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak, and vice versa, from the 66.6 per cent capacity allowed during the MCO and subsequent Conditional MCO.
State Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin explained that the decision was made considering the improvement of the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak, adding the move will help stimulate domestic economic growth especially for the tourism sector, and also facilitate the movement of goods and people for business, official and personal reasons.