Over 35,000 claimed flight subsidy

Helping out students: Fadillah (second row, fourth from right) and Loke (fifth from right) posing for photos at the launch of FLYsiswa at Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: At least 72% of the eligible students from public tertiary education institutions have claimed the FLYsiswa flight ticket subsidy for domestic routes between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan as of Dec 5, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

He urged the remaining 14,000 students to do so before the Dec 31 deadline.

Loke said that a total of 35,594 out of the 50,069 eligible students have claimed the RM300 digital vouchers, which they can redeem with local carriers such as Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Batik Air.

These vouchers can be used for travel at any time next year.

Earlier on, the initiative was only open to public university students from Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan who are studying in Peninsular Malaysia and vice versa.

However, based on the feedback received, the government expanded the incentive to students from polytechnics, community colleges, matriculation colleges and teacher’s training colleges under the Higher Education Ministry.

Touching on the issue of high airfares, he said the high demand had affected the prices of flight tickets, owing to the recovery in flight capacity as well.

“The unity government is working on several measures to increase flight capacities while also introducing the FLYsiswa initiative to reduce the burden of high travel cost,” he said in his speech at the launch of the FLYsiswa initiative at Universiti Malaya here yesterday.

“The underlying message from this FLYsiswa initiative is that we want to bring real integration between Peninsular Malaysia and these territories (Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan).”

At a later press conference, Loke said the government also has intentions to make FLYsiswa a yearly initiative.

He added that if the students do not redeem the full amount in one purchase, they could use the remaining balance for their next purchase.

Loke also advised students to plan their trips early in advance.

The FLYsiswa initiative was announced under Budget 2024 to assist underprivileged students flying domestically between Sabah, Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan to return to their hometowns and get back to their respective varsities for the beginning of the new semester.

The event was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and was also attended by Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi.

Fadillah said the Sarawak government had also introduced a RM600 flight subsidy initiative for students from Sarawak via the i-GPS initiative.

“It will be great if other states follow suit. I totally support if other states want to do it as well,” he said during his keynote speech.

He said through the FLYsiswa initiative, the government also wanted to ensure that familial ties remain strong by enabling students to travel to their hometowns, in addition to ensuring their welfare.

“We want students to focus on their studies,” he said.

“During our time, to return at a certain time, we had to sleep in the airport because we could not afford full tickets,” he said, adding that they sometimes had to be on standby for vacant seats.

“We don’t want our students to go through such a situation in this day and age,” he said.

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