“Now Only The Rich Can Fly”; Airline Bashing With Jimmy Joining The Fray

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JIMMY WONG

By BORNEOTODAY REPORTERS
KOTA KINABALU: It would be cheaper to fly to London for a holiday rather than to travel between Tawau or Sandakan, to the nation’s capital during the next Chinese New Year, as fares have been described as ridiculously high.

Lambasting budget airlines especially, Jimmy Wong, the Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament also took a swipe at the Malaysian Aviation Commission as well as the Sabah State government for their indifferent attitudes towards the suffering consumer.

“Take for example Air Asia which is proud of their slogan – ‘Now everyone can fly’,” he told a press conference here on Friday. “Honestly, now I don’t think they can proudly say that anymore as with the fares they advertise, especially during peak season, only the rich can fly.”

Jimmy said that for Sabahan and Sarawakians wanting to go to the peninsular, or those who are working there and wanting to come back home for holidays, they only have three choices – Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and Malindo.

“During the peak season in particular festivities or year-end holidays, ticket prices are at a premium and simply out of reach of many ordinary people, students and white collar workers included,” he said.

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“To say these airlines are profiteering at the expense of the people from the Borneo States is an understatement. The air fares as published on the web sites of these airlines do not line and we are forced to cough out more money.

“We have no choice. To get to Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Johore from Kuching, Kota Kinabalu or Tawau, we only have two or three airlines to choose from. They dictate the fares and it is no longer cheap”

Jimmy claimed that two months ago, due to an emergency, he had to cough out some RM1,000 for a one-way trip from Tawau to Kota Kinabalu on a so-called budget airline while later when he checked a rival airline, the fare for the same journey was nearly 50 percent cheaper.

Malaysia Airlines is among those that operate direct Kuala Lumpur-Tawau-Kuala Lumpur direct flights. The other is Air Asia.

He also claimed that with the year-end holidays as well as Christmas and the New Year looming, prices between Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu and Tawau or Sandakan was already priced at over RM1,000.

According to Jimmy, for the Chinese New Year in February, a return ticket could easily put a consumer back for some RM1,500 to travel between Sabah as well as Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur.

Jimmy said Mavcom should help the consumers purchase tickets at reasonable prices instead of helping the authorities increase fees at KLIA2 which would further burden the traveller.

“They must also seriously look into making Malaysian airlines offer a discount card to students as well as the elderly,” he pointed out said many students had no choice but to go to the peninsular to continue their tertiary education.”

He said the Sabah State government should not be a bystander and allow airlines overcharge, as it must step in to get a better deal for the people.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know what is happening. Stop keeping quiet while the people get slaughtered by the airline companies. You must step in at some point,” he warned.

Jimmy suggested that the State government be serious in getting the state-owned Sabah Air Aviation seriously look into operating a domestic service; for a start perhaps Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur.

“Then you can expand an internal service from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau and Sandakan, and if your fares are competitive and reasonable, I sure Sabah people will utilise your services,” he added.

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