KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 ― Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong pledged today to investigate and find a solution to the latest sky-high prices for plane tickets after widespread criticism ahead of this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri holiday.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) is set to hold discussions with airliners soon, Wee said in a statement published on his Facebook page, adding that carriers are already working on increasing flight frequencies and extending air control operating hours.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) has already extended the operating hours of some traffic controllers for Sabah and Sarawak in view of the upcoming festive season, Wee revealed.

“I chaired a special meeting yesterday involving the transport ministry, Mavcom, CAAM, and airlines to find the best solution,” the minister said.

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“I have instructed Mavcom and the airlines to conduct a detailed investigation regarding the increase in flight ticket prices during festive seasons,” he added.

Wee said higher fuel prices is a major factor driving air travel higher compared to 2019.

Airlines have also struggled to operate at pre-crisis capacity as the Covid-19 pandemic dragged on for two years, forcing carriers to ground planes and cut their workforce.

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Sabah DAP lawmaker Chan Foong Hin had earlier today taken the minister to task for allegedly failing to control plane tickets from skyrocketing during the holidays.

The Kota Kinabalu MP claimed that jet fuel has not gone up in price to justify the exorbitant flight fares and suggested the minister use his authority to add more flights between the peninsula and Borneo Malaysia as a means to keep plane tickets affordable rather than impose a price cap.

Bernama recently reported that flight fares between the peninsula and Borneo Malaysia cost around RM2,000 for a return trip during the Aidilfitri season, which is between April 29 and May 8.

Sabah Chief Minister Hajiji Noor has described the extent of the increase of airfares as “burdening the people”, while his deputy Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin described the current prices as “daylight robbery”.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Jafry Ariffin said it was “ridiculous” as Sabah is only accessible by air from peninsular Malaysia.