KUALA LUMPUR: Airline operators in the country will increase their flight capacity by 20% to reduce air ticket prices during the peak period of the three festive seasons of Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Gawai, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke (pic).
"A consensus has been agreed upon today by three airlines: Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, and Malindo to offer more flights during these three festive seasons.
"We are taking a trial approach method and have identified that there are three festive periods that see a hike in prices, which is Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, and Hari Gawai and Kaamatan in Sabah and Sarawak," he said during a press conference at the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) headquarters after a meeting with the CEOs of three airlines on Tuesday (Sept 4).
Loke said the technical paper by Mavcom revealed that air ticket prices on 10 routes saw an increase of as high as 5.7 times during the Chinese New Year period.
However, he rejected the idea of placing a ceiling price on airfares during the festive period.
"We are worried that if we implement a ceiling price, then the airline companies will average out the prices, and this will result in an increase of airfares during normal days," he said.
Loke added that he did not want to see this happen, as the domestic airfare trends had shown a continuous decline for the past few years.
He also said that not many countries implemented a ceiling price, while Indonesia – which did – didn't see a reduction in airfare prices of its domestic routes.
"If we ask for a ceiling price, then the airline companies will ask for a minimum price as well," he said, adding that it would not benefit the people in the long run.
The additional flights would be provided seven days before the start of the festive period.
"We will increase the supply in order to bring down the prices. This is the consensus from each airline.
"Each airline company that has flights on those days will increase its capacity. Each route will see an additional increase of 20%," he said.
Loke added that seven routes have been identified for Chinese New Year.
They are Kuala Lumpur-Sibu, Kuala Lumpur-Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur-Kuching, Johor Baru-Sibu, Johor Baru-Kuching, Johor Baru-Kota Kinabalu and Ipoh-Johor Baru.
Loke added that flights during Chinese New Year would begin selling next month, while those for Hari Raya would start in February or March next year.
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