Exploitation? MAS, AirAsia charge more for domestic Sibu-KL route than international KL-Hong Kong passage

Wong Ching Yong

KUCHING, Nov 13: Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Dudong branch chairman Wong Ching Yong questions whether Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia are taking advantage of Sarawak residents, particularly those in Sibu, by charging them exorbitant ticket prices.

Wong proceeded to highlight the excessively high ticket prices on Nov 17, providing examples of Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia flights from Sibu to Kuala Lumpur in comparison to international flights.

“On that day (Nov 17), the ticket price for Malaysia Airlines flight MH2717 from Sibu to Kuala Lumpur started from RM1234.18, and for AirAsia flight AK5877, it was RM919. However, for a Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong flight, which had double the flight duration, Malaysia Airlines offered tickets for as low as RM1187, and AirAsia even lower at RM429.

“With such price comparisons, one has to ask Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia: are you blatantly taking advantage of Sarawak, especially Sibu residents?” Wong queried.

He said it is unfair to the people of Sibu because air travel is their only option to get to West Malaysia.

“Even in the face of high-priced airfares, Sarawakians or Sibu residents have no choice but to endure the airlines’ exploitation or mistreatment,” Wong alleged in a statement.

The SUPP Dudong branch chairman then called on Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook to address issues beyond ticket prices, such as the reduction in outbound flights from Sibu, including reduced frequencies to Kuala Lumpur and the cessation of flights to Singapore.

At the same time, Wong urged Sibu MP Oscar Ling and Lanang MP Alice Lau to not let the people of Sibu down but to take the initiative to address air transport issues now that they are sitting members of parliament.

“We cannot help but wonder: Does the Federal government, especially the Ministry of Transport (MOT), understand the situation and needs of the people of Sibu? And are the two well-paid Sibu members of parliament continuously fighting for Sibu at the Federal level?”

“Logically, they should be well aware of the flight situation. However, perhaps their airfares are covered by the government, they do not personally realise the hardship faced by ordinary citizens. Therefore, besides their opposition period, we rarely see them speaking out on Sibu’s air transportation issues,” said Wong.

He held that the two Democratic Action Party (DAP) parliamentarians should not claim helplessness to the people’s demands when DAP was in the opposition and continue to make the same claim when in power.

The decision made by Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg to establish Sarawak’s own airline, to him, is thus timely and wise.

However, before Sarawak-owned airline takes flight, Wong believed that it is the responsibility of the
Federal Ministry of Transport to ascertain reasonable flight services for the people of Sarawak. — DayakDaily