Transport minister: Airlines must lower fares now that social distancing rules relaxed for airports, planes

A general view of KLIA2 on the first day of the relaxed movement control order in Sepang June 10, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
A general view of KLIA2 on the first day of the relaxed movement control order in Sepang June 10, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — Airlines must work towards lowering ticket prices now that social distancing restrictions have been lifted on airport terminals and passenger aircraft, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong.

This follows the decision, made by the Special Ministerial Meeting on the movement control order (MCO) on June 18, to discontinue the requirement for social distancing at departure halls and boarding gates in airport terminals under the recovery phase of the MCO (RMCO).

As such, Wee reminded airlines to set reasonable prices so as to not unduly burden those who need to fly for work or otherwise during RMCO.

“Following a meeting held by the Ministry of Transport with Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, and Malindo Air on June 11, 2020 to discuss the airline industry’s economic recovery, the airlines must now begin to reduce their airfares and increase flight frequencies in line with the relaxation of social distancing rules for scheduled and non-scheduled passenger flights.

“The airlines have informed the government that airfares are determined via a dynamic pricing mechanism based on supply and demand factors that are market-driven. These factors, among others, include passenger demand, the economic situation, costs of fuel and operations.

“It has also been explained that airlines need to ensure bookings are stable and consistent before prices can be normalised to pre-Covid-19 levels,’’ said Wee.

As air fare also depends on when it is purchased, Wee also advised travellers to plan ahead to enjoy lower fares.

Effective June 19, meeters and greeters are now allowed to enter airport terminals.

Social distancing rules are also no longer mandatory for scheduled passengers who have already passed security checks and are queuing at boarding gates.

However, Wee stressed that the public must still comply with all guidelines related to health screenings, body temperature checks, and the use of face masks and hand sanitisers within airport terminals.

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