Today I welcome the announcement by the Transport Minister YB Anthony Loke in Parliament that the Ministry of Transport in collaboration with Air Asia will launch more extra midnight flights from Johor to Kuching and Johor to Sibu at a fixed price at RM 149 during the upcoming festive Chinese New Year celebration to address the problem of high-ticket prices especially to Sabah and Sarawak.
This is an additional to the previously launched Kuala Lumpur- Kuching/Sibu/Miri and other flights to Sabah the past few weeks. After the first launch, I brought up the issue of additional routes which affects Sarawak including Johor-Kuching/Sibu route as many Sarawakians are working in Johor, either nearby in Singapore or even in the industries in Johor. The State Government has estimated that there are about 40,000 Sarawakians working in Johor with a huge majority of them working in Pasir Gudang.
In response to our request, the Transport Ministry has engaged with the different stakeholders again to address this need and today he announced in Parliament that they will soon launch the additional flights during the upcoming Chinese New Year and will look into having such programs in every major festival including Hari Gawai and Hari Raya. On top of that, MALINDO have also requested the ministry to add their flights to East Malaysia during the festive seasons and 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 RM 1500 for the Johor-Kuching route and even Kuala Lumpur-Sibu route which has hindered many Sarawakians from coming back home to be with the families during the festive season.
However, I believe there is still room for improvement including the need for more of such flights as based on the previously launched Kuala Lumpur-Sarawak flights at special fares. The flight tickets sold out rather quickly with many missing out on those special rates. On top of that, I have noticed that even though MAS airlines have added more flights but the 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 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 such seats for 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.