MOTS taking steps to ensure affordable airfares during upcoming festive seasons, school holidays

Lee (seated) speaks during a press conference after presenting his winding-up speech at the DUN sitting on Nov 29, 2022.

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By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, Nov 29: Minister of Transport Sarawak (MOTS) Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin disclosed his ministry has written to all airlines and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) to ensure that airfares are affordable for everyone during the upcoming festive seasons and school holidays.

Lee stated this in his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

“For the upcoming festive seasons, including school holidays and Chinese New Year 2023, my ministry has written to all airlines and Mavcom to ensure that airfares are affordable for our people, particularly students and those wishing to visit family members in Sarawak or West Malaysia during the auspicious season,” he said.

He also encouraged potential travellers to plan ahead and book their flights early to take advantage of promotional and discounted airfares.

“If there are too many passengers who cannot be accommodated, we propose that they (airlines) use a larger aircraft, such as the A330, rather than the A320, so that they can bring more people back to celebrate the festive season,” he told reporters at a press conference following his winding-up speech.

Lee, who is also the Senadin assemblyman, highlighted that his ministry is always working closely with Ministry of Transport Malaysia and its agencies.

Furthermore, on the aviation sector, he noted that as of Jan until Sep 2022, a total number of 88,979 aircraft and 6,013,068 passengers was recorded across all Sarawak airports.

He mentioned that most of the flights and passengers came from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kota Bharu, Labuan, Brunei, and Singapore.

“For cargo, a total of 47,451 tonnes of cargo movement (sic) was recorded in all Sarawak airports including STOLports from Jan to Sep 2022.

“Kuching has the most cargo movement with a total of 36,858 tonnes, followed by Miri with 6,013 tonnes, Sibu with 2,356 tonnes, Bintulu with 1,425 tonnes, and the rest to the smaller airports and STOLports,” he added.

Lee also explained that MOTS and Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) have returned the full authority to manage flight frequency to Mavcom in Aug 25, 2022.

“Mavcom is the economic and commercial regulator for the aviation industry whose role is to facilitate and approve all route applications which includes monitoring of the airfare and the development of the aviation industry,” he said.

He also revealed that currently there are 35 international flights to Sarawak which are mostly from Singapore and Brunei.

“Kuching International Airport receives the most, 27 flights weekly, and Miri, 8 times weekly. The routes are served by AirAsia Berhad, Malaysia Airlines Berhad, Scoot Tigerair Ltd, and Royal Brunei Airlines.

“Sibu will have its first direct connectivity to Singapore with AirAsia Berhad having its inaugural flight this coming Dec 16, 2022, serving the route with four flights weekly.

“We believe this will be a great convenience for business travellers and tourists which will spur economic activities in Sibu,” he remarked.

The Senadin assemblyman also revealed that as of Oct 31, 2022, there were 373 weekly domestic flights which departed from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kota Bharu, and Labuan to Sarawak.

“Kuching International Airport received 199 flights weekly, followed by Miri Airport with 82 flights, Sibu with 49 flights, Bintulu with 31 flights, and the rest of the flights were to smaller airports such as Limbang, Lawas, and Mulu,” Lee added. — DayakDaily