KOTA KINABALU: Round-trip airfares for travellers wanting to return to Sabah and Sarawak for the Kaamatan and Gawai celebrations should be fixed at RM400 with government subsides, say consumer groups and unions.
They said the government should consider subsidising these round-trip tickets instead of capping the fare at RM300 for one-way flights to fly to Sabah and Sarawak during selected periods.
“The one-way rate of RM300 between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu will work out to around RM600 for a round trip, which remains expensive,” said Sabah West Coast Smart Consumers Association president David Chan.
These two-way flights should be maintained at a standard price of RM400, he said, adding that there were times when fares to Hong Kong or Taiwan were cheaper than from Kota Kinabalu.
Chan said the Transport Ministry should look into standardising the fare for round trips between the peninsula and Sabah whether during festive or normal travel period.
On Thursday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said travellers need not pay more than RM300 to fly to Sabah and Sarawak during selected periods as the government would top up the fare difference by reimbursing the airlines.
Kaamatan, which is celebrated in Sabah, will take place on May 30-31. In Sarawak, Gawai will be celebrated on June 1-2.
Sabah Cuepacs executive secretary Laurence Vun said that airlines could still give low fares during the festive season because they would be flying at full capacity.
“What is the mechanism in the implementation of this subsidy? Will airlines impose quotas for each flight that are to be subsidised?” he said.
Referring to the RM300 cap on one-way flights from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak in the run-up to Kaamatan and Gawai, he said: “It looks good on paper that the government is subsidising but people must realise they can be back home during the festival but the real crunch is when they purchase tickets to fly back to the peninsula.”