By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Oct 23: Local tourism stakeholders and foreign travellers can heave a sigh of relief as MASwings will be issuing a letter to retract the implementation of new higher airfares for foreigners this Friday (Oct 25).
Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin revealed today that he has received the good news via a text message from MASwings chief executive officer (CEO) Aminuddin Zakaria last night.
“On Friday, we (MASwings) will issue a letter to retract the circular sent out last Friday (Oct 18). We will continue the fare as in before,” Lee read out the text message from Aminuddin during a press conference after visiting the Sarawak Energy hydrogen production plant and refuelling station in Pending here.
“This mean they (MASwings) will stick to the current fare and will not implement the new fare anymore,” he explained.
He reiterated that the ‘irrational’ increase in airfare for foreigners will have serious repercussions not only on the tourism sector in Sarawak, but also business travellers and those in the oil and gas sector.
“The travel agents have already pre-sold packages with some until next year. The increase of price all of a sudden will result in cancellation of tours and some (agents) may even need to pay compensation,” he said.
Lee thus reminded decision makers in federal authorities or the peninsula in general that there is no cookie-cutter approach to decision-making, urging them to better understand the different situation in Sarawak.
“They cannot apply whatever (decision) in the peninsula to Sarawak. They must consider factors of our infrastructure, living condition, terrain challenges and so forth… which are still lacking (in infrastructure),” he pointed out.
“Sarawak is not (like) Peninsular Malaysia in which people can go everywhere by road and rail. But here, how to go Mulu by timber track? How to go to Bario?”
Lee expressed thanks to Aminuddin, the federal Transport Ministry and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) for their prompt action following a strong appeal made three days ago.
According to a local daily, MASwings’ new ticket prices for foreigners, which will see a three-fold increase, was supposed to come into effect on Nov 1.
Currently, a ticket from Miri to Mulu is RM314 for Malaysians. Under the new rate for foreigners, a Miri-Bario return ticket will cost RM1,037; Miri-Marudi (RM738); Miri-Lawas (RM922) and Miri-Labuan (RM908), while a Kuching-Mulu flight is priced at RM1,386.
Assistant Minister of Transport Datuk Dr Jerip Susil and Sarawak Energy Group CEO Sharbini Suhaili were present. — DayakDaily