PETALING JAYA: An opposition MP has hit out at transport minister Wee Ka Siong’s “deafening silence” over the sky-high prices for flight tickets to East Malaysia from the peninsula during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri period.
Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin expressed disappointment in Wee for failing to arrange for additional flights when the increase in demand during the festive period was predictable since it happened annually.
“Not one, not two, but three Sabah state government leaders have come out to pan the hike in airfares for flights within Sabah and between Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia,” he said, citing Sabah chief minister Hajiji Noor, his deputy Bung Moktar Radin and state exco member Jafri Arifin.
“The million-dollar question is why does the federal government seem to be doing absolutely nothing about it other than having meetings after meetings that don’t benefit Sabahans?
“Why does Wee seem to be absolutely silent as if it is not his business? It is unacceptable for Wee to have overlooked and neglected to take any measures to arrange additional flights,” he said in a statement today.
Chan, of DAP, maintained that he did not want Putrajaya to intervene by setting ceiling prices as it would affect the average price of airfares on normal days.
He said ticket prices would only be high when there were few seats left on a flight, which meant that prices would naturally increase when there was a high demand.
“The only way to control such price hikes is to increase the number of flights during festive seasons. As such, I would like to call upon Wee to have airlines arrange for additional flights to control airfares,” he said.
Utusan Malaysia reported that flights to Sabah had increased to RM4,000, with a flight to Tawau potentially costing more than a ticket to London.
The report said checks on Malaysia Airlines’ and AirAsia’s websites for one-way flights before Hari Raya found that flying to Tawau from KLIA would cost RM200 for economy class and RM1,000 for business class on normal days.
However, one-way flights to Tawau during the festive period surged to between RM1,892 and RM3,781 for economy class – compared to a one-way flight to London that would normally cost RM2,300.