KUCHING, Nov 29: Lanang MP Alice Lau today commended Minister of Transport Anthony Loke for securing more affordable midnight flights from Johor to Kuching and Johor to Sibu for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration.
This was in view of problems faced by many Sarawakians working in the peninsula, particularly Johor, where affordable flights are scarce. Even if they managed to secure a flight, it would be expensive.
“Today, I welcome the announcement by Loke in Parliament that the Ministry of Transport in collaboration with AirAsia will launch more extra midnight flights from Johor to Kuching and Johor to Sibu at a fixed price of RM149 during the upcoming festive Chinese New Year celebration to address the problem of high-ticket prices, especially to Sabah and Sarawak.
“This is in addition to the previously launched Kuala Lumpur-Kuching/Sibu/Miri and other flights to Sabah recently,” Lau said in a statement today.
She said after the launch of the Kuala Lumpur flights, she brought up the issue of additional routes that affect Sarawak, including the Johor-Kuching/Sibu routes as many Sarawakians are working in Johor, either nearby in Singapore or even in industries in Johor.
She said the state government estimated that there were about 40,000 Sarawakians working in Johor, with a huge number working in Pasir Gudang.
“In response to our request, the Transport Ministry engaged with the different stakeholders again to address this need, and today, he announced in Parliament that they will soon launch additional flights during the upcoming Chinese New Year and will look into having such programmes during every major festival, including Hari Gawai and Hari Raya.
“On top of that, Malindo has also requested the ministry to increase their flights to East Malaysia during the festive seasons. The more flights and competition will hopefully result in more competitive prices for the benefit of the people.
“This is indeed a proactive step taken by the Ministry to address the high prices of flight tickets to Sarawak and Sabah, especially during festive seasons. This issue has been longstanding and was not properly addressed before this, with flight tickets going up as high as RM1,500 for the Johor-Kuching route and even Kuala Lumpur-Sibu route. This has hindered many Sarawakians from returning home to be with their families during the festive seasons,” said Lau.
She, however, said there was still room for improvement, including the need for more of such flights, like the previously launched Kuala Lumpur-Sarawak flights at special fares.
Lau pointed out that the flight tickets would sell out rather quickly with many missing out on those special rates. She noticed that even though Malaysian Airlines (MAS) had added more flights, their prices remain relatively high.
“I do hope that for the benefit of the people, they will consider lowering their prices and also for more airlines to join in to keep the prices competitive for members of the public.
“I, therefore, encourage members of the public to keep up-to-date on the announcement of the launch dates by the ministry soon, which will be helpful in planning for their trips in the upcoming Chinese New Year before seats with such special fare gets sold out again.
“We will also follow up with the Ministry on ticket fares for other upcoming festivals and monitor the general ticket prices so that high ticket prices will not be a hindrance for our fellow Sarawakians from coming home to spend quality time with their families, especially during festive seasons,” said Lau. — DayakDaily