Pricey flight tickets no help to tourism, says Matta

Many are planning to go back to their home towns following the lifting of travel restrictions under the recovery movement control order.

PETALING JAYA: A major organisation in the tourism trade has raised concerns over the high price of tickets for domestic air travel, saying it will make it hard for the sector to recover.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Tan Kok Liang told FMT the impact would be felt on domestic tourism involving air travel, such as between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia.

“Sabah and Sarawak depend significantly on domestic tourists from Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

He proposed that the governments of the two states waive some travel restrictions so as to encourage tourism despite the high cost of travel.

“They need to waive restrictions such as the strict requirement on visitors to undergo a Covid-19 test at their places of origin three days before entering the states,” he said.

The senior minister for security, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, said on Monday that airlines had raised ticket prices in order to make up for carrying fewer travellers and flying half-empty planes.

“We understand that air fares are expensive because the implementation of social distancing has forced passenger capacity to be cut to 66%,” Ismail said.

He also said airlines had applied to fill their planes to full passenger capacity. “Their reasoning is that all the passenger details are in the flight manifest and the passengers can be contacted in the event a Covid-19 case is detected.”

Tan agreed with the airlines’ reasoning, saying: “The international aviation body has evidence that suggests the risk of transmission on aircraft is low.”

He said the air fares were expected to increase by 50% based on the allowed passenger capacity.

The issue is hot on social media, with many people complaining that tickets are sold at exorbitant prices.

Many Malaysians are planning to go back to their home towns following the lifting of travel restrictions under the recovery movement control order.

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