High travel cost holding some Malaysians back

Passengers queing up to check in at service counter at KLIA main terminal. - Filepic by AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

JOHOR BARU: Some Malaysians working in Singapore are taking the wait-and-see approach before buying their flight tickets to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for when the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) takes effect on Nov 29.

Technician Chang Siang Ee said she would only return to Johor once a land VTL has been implemented.

She said while the air VTL between KLIA and Singapore’s Changi Airport would allow people to save time as they would not be required to be quarantined, it’s still an expensive affair.

“Apart from paying the price of flight tickets, which is increasing as the holiday season draws closer, we also have to fork out money for Covid-19 tests in both Malaysia and Singapore. We would then have to spend more money to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Johor.

“As such, I will wait for more details to be announced on the land VTL between Johor and Singapore before I proceed to buy tickets to KLIA,” she said in an interview.

Assistant chemist M. Eddie, 26, also lamented about the cost. He said the price of RT-PCR tests in both Malaysia and Singapore could go up to about RM1,536.

“The requirements announced by the two governments on the air VTL seem rather straightforward and easy to understand. I believe there would be no problem for travellers to follow the guidelines.

“However, the biggest drawback is the travel cost. I hope that the government can come out with a way to make travelling more affordable for us, as for now, it’s beyond what Malaysians working in Singapore can afford,” he said.

Job instructor Tan Sheau Hui, 48, said that flight tickets between Changi and KLIA for the next few days have been snapped up despite the high travel cost.

“The air tickets and Covid-19 tests are expensive. But some of those who have been away from home for close to two years are willing to fork out the money.

“I decided not to travel back through the air VTL as I plan to have my parents come to Singapore instead. My brother who’s in Australia is also unable to go back to Malaysia,” she said.

Tan added that she is also worried that the number of Covid-19 cases would go up following the relaxation of the Covid-19 standard operating procedure.

“Most countries that have relaxed their safety control measures have seen cases increasing rapidly. We have yet to see such a trend in Malaysia, but we need to be careful.

“The increase in cases could lead to the closure of the border again,” she said.

On Thursday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said fully vaccinated travellers from Singapore will be able to travel to Malaysia under the VTL by air starting from Nov 29 without needing to undergo quarantine upon arrival.

He added that this also applies to air travellers from Malaysia entering Singapore.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said land travel between Singapore and Johor Baru will only cover long-term pass holders such as those working in Singapore or Johor Baru.

Under the VTL, fully vaccinated travellers can travel between both countries, subject to a Covid-19 test, in lieu of serving a quarantine or Stay-Home Notice.

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