KUCHING, Feb 28 — Setting the maximum fare for a one-way economy class flight ticket from the peninsula to Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan in conjunction with this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri is still seen as expensive especially for those with families.

Bank officer, Falisha Alia, 38, said setting the maximum price should also take into account the number of family members, especially those with many children. The price is still high to return home,” she told Bernama today.

“For single people, it may not be a problem for them to spend more to celebrate the festival with their family. But for those who are married and with children, the maximum price is still high.”

Falisha said if she and her family plan to go back to their hometown in Sarawak for Hari Raya, they need to purchase their tickets three months before their departure date.

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“Our finances are quite limited... For us as a family, the maximum cost for flight tickets for myself, my husband and two children will be around RM2,500, so we will not be able to afford anything more than that.

“It is not every year that we can go back to celebrate in Sarawak. If the financial situation does not allow it, we celebrate it in Kuala Lumpur only,” she said.

On February 24, Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that the government had set a maximum fare of RM599 for a one-way economy class flight from the peninsula to Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan, applicable for travel three days before Aidilfitri.

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He said among other things, this would help people to plan a holiday to return to their respective hometowns in April.

Ahmad Johari, 52, a civil servant in Sibu, hopes that the maximum fare setting can be extended to other festivals such as Chinese New Year, Gawai Dayak, Kaamatan as well as Christmas.

He said this is because there are many Sarawakians living in the peninsula who celebrate these festivals.

However, Ahmad said many Sarawakians who already have families in the peninsula cannot return to their respective villages during the festive seasons because airfares usually increase during these seasons.

“For those who have arrive in Sibu, they have to continue their journeys to their respective villages, located on the upper reaches of the river or on the coast. This will cost them a few hundred ringgit more for the boat trip. Sibu is just a stopover,” he told Bernama.

Meanwhile, another Sarawakian, Freddy John Lee, 27, who works in Kuala Lumpur, hopes that the acquisition process of the airline company MASwings Sdn Bhd (MASwings) by the Sarawak government can be finalised soon to help ease the burden of Bumi Kenyalang (Land of the Hornbills) children who work in the capital to return to their villages.

He said that with an airline company owned by the Sarawak government in the future, such companies are expected to be more sensitive to the financial situation of the people than private companies.

“The issue of ticket prices to Sarawak and Sabah which are expensive has been going on for a long time. For me, the acquisition of MASwings will be a game changer that can lower ticket prices in the market,” he added. — Bernama