PETALING JAYA: AirAsia has dropped the price of flight tickets to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur to under RM200, from about RM1,000 previously, for a one-way trip ahead of the Dec 18 Sarawak state election and Christmas.
The reduction in airfare comes after the airline received confirmation from the Sarawak Transport Ministry and the Sarawak disaster management committee (SDMC) to operate an additional 42-weekly flights from the peninsula, and Sabah into Sarawak for a limited period.
"The airline has today received confirmation from Sarawak Transport Ministry and the SDMC for an additional 42-weekly flights from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah into the state for a limited period, from Dec 4, 2021, until Jan 5, 2022.
"This has brought the fares down from around RM1,000
one-way to below RM200 for a Kuala Lumpur to Kuching flight and these (tickets) were very quickly snapped up,” it said in a statement on Saturday (Nov 27).
AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer Riad Asmat said the airline’s average fare for flights between Sarawak and the peninsula has been around RM160 per one-way passenger.
"In abiding with the limited flight frequencies imposed by the SDMC resulting in a reduced supply of flight seats, AirAsia’s demand-based dynamic pricing mechanism has inevitably derived prices seen as unfavourable to buyers at this time.
"It must be remembered that this is also the same mechanism that we used to offer guests promotional fares from as low as RM99 one-way earlier in October.
"As a general rule, fares will be higher, closer to the travel date and during peak holiday periods when our flights are already near full.
"Buyers have already taken up to 90% of our capacity on most flights. The limitation on the number of flights available in the market is a key factor that has pushed the prices higher across all airlines," he said.
Riad added that AirAsia used to fly over 300-weekly flights into Sarawak pre-Covid-19, connecting Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Baru, Kota Kinabalu and various other destinations in Malaysia.
"Just for Kuala Lumpur - Kuching alone, we used to fly between 12 and 15 flights daily on this hugely popular route before Covid-19, but with the the latest approval today, AirAsia will be flying five daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kuching, which is a 67% reduction in our capacity due to the restrictions by SDMC.
"We comprehend that demand is there but at the moment, we are unable to meet it until more flight approvals are given," he said.
The airline said it had been continuously engaging the Sarawak Transport Ministry and submitted applications to permanently increase its scheduled flight frequencies from the peninsula and Sabah into Sarawak on several occasions since early this year.
It also submitted a request last week for the operation of extra flights for the upcoming holiday season, Christmas and Chinese New Year.