Pricing move will benefit tourism, says Nazri

KUALA LUMPUR — Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has welcomed the proposal to implement a price cap on domestic airline tickets.

He said this would benefit the local tourism industry.

“It is good for tourism in a sense that local airlines will not be killing each other and will be fair to all.

“Most major international airlines only fly to Kuala Lumpur, and not to Kota Baru or Penang, for example. So if there is a cap for domestic flights, it will benefit tourism, not just domestic, but also international tourists,” he said.

Deputy Transport Minister, Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi told Malay Mail yesterday that airlines may soon be limited to seasonal increases of no more than 2.5 times higher than the average price.

Nazri suggested a cap be implemented not only for ceiling prices, but as well as minimum prices.

“Sometimes there can be situations where you charge it so low it may eventually affect the airlines,” he said.

He said with the cap, hopefully, airlines would charge competitive rates.

Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association organising chairman Uzaidi Udanis said it is inevitable that the high demand for domestic flights had resulted in fares reaching ridiculous prices.

“Ideally in a free-market environment, without intervention from the government or regulatory bodies, the fares would reflect public demand. But in some cases it becomes excessive,” he said.

“We would not want to deter the growth of the industry since low returns would prevent them from expanding, but at the same time the need to be fair to customers is understandable even though Malaysia’s domestic prices are still comparatively reasonable than other (Asia-Pacific) countries.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents fully supported the move, stating the ‘astronomical’ high fares were burdensome on the public, suggesting a cap of between 1.5 and 2.0.

“Air travel is not a luxury but an essential service for travel between the peninsular and Sabah and Sarawak.

“More affordable airfares across the South China Sea would be welcome news for those who return to celebrate with their families, relatives and friends,” said president Datuk Tan Kok Lian in a statement.

“Airlines should review their pricing strategy during low and high periods so as not to victimise passengers travelling during peak seasons,” Tan said.