PETALING JAYA: Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong today urged everyone to give airlines some time to revert to lower fares as they are in financial hardship after the three-month lockdown.
He said with airlines experiencing a drop of 97% in passenger volume, expenses were pushing them towards the verge of bankruptcy.
Wee’s comments came after people took to social media to complain about unusually high fares.
Airlines had raised fares to make up for carrying fewer travellers and flying half-empty planes, senior minister Ismail Sabri had said on Monday.
In a statement, Wee said many were hoping that airfares would drop after a government decision to not impose social distancing on all flights today.
“From the airlines’ feedback, flight bookings should be done early, as fares would not begin to drop drastically, especially for short-notice bookings to fly within a day or two.
“For flight bookings made two or three weeks prior to departure, the ticket price may be half the price of those bought two days before departure,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Wee said earlier in the day he had met the chiefs of Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo Air to speak about the revival of the aviation industry as they had an important role to play in the country’s economic recovery, post-Covid-19.
“With the current exit strategies amid the recovery movement control order, many are hoping for lower fares once flights to domestic and international destinations start to reopen without the need for social distancing.
“At the same time, airlines also should set reasonable fares which would not burden the rakyat too much,” Wee said.
Earlier today, Wee announced that the government was doing away with social distancing on aircraft.
The decision was made as per the guidelines released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which instead put a priority on health screenings and adherence to wearing face masks, among others.
Wee said the decision was also arrived at after discussions with the health ministry and the National Security Council.
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