PETALING JAYA: MASwings will increase the number of flights in conjunction with the impending Sarawak state election and tickets are expected to be cheaper, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
The Transport Minister explained that MASwings previously reduced its flight frequencies due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, but ticket bookings have recently increased after the government had allowed interstate and interdistrict travel.
"MASwings will increase its flight frequencies in line with the increase in demand in conjunction with the Sarawak state election," said Dr Wee during his winding up speech on Budget 2022 in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 16).
He also said the Transport Ministry had held discussions with the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), Malaysia Airlines Berhad, AirAsia and Malindo Air on Nov 3 about lowering airfares from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak.
"Every airline cooperated well. They are only hoping for flight frequencies to increase; it was 22 flights per week before and now it's 223.
"This means that if there are no restrictions, such as the 90-minute buffer separation period that was lifted, they could increase flight frequencies and tickets can be cheaper."
He was replying to Alice Lau (PH-Lanang), who asked about whether flight tickets to Sarawak would be cheaper due to the state election that might be called soon.
Dr Wee also said flight tickets to Sarawak will be restored to its normal rates once flight frequencies are restored to pre-pandemic levels.
"At the same time, the Sarawak state government should consider easing health protocols for passengers entering Sarawak."
Lau then interjected and asked if the ministry would address the issue of last minute changes on flight schedules.
Dr Wee said the matter was being handled by Mavcom and all complaints towards airlines have been handled under the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 since July 2016.
Previously, MPs had lamented the exorbitant flight ticket prices, among them Lau, who claimed on Oct 27 that a flight from KL to Sibu cost RM5,307.20 for an economy class ticket.
Checks by The Star on Nov 16 on AirAsia's website for a return ticket from KL to Kuching, travelling during the mid-December period, averages around RM800, subject to differing flight times.
The Sarawak state election is expected to be held in mid-December and the Election Commission is expected to announce the nomination day and polling days for the state election after it meets on Nov 24.
The Sarawak state assembly was dissolved on Nov 3 after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong consented to lift the state-wide Emergency on the same day.