Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MAS’ local fares go up


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines will increase its domestic fares by an average of 15% for economy class and 25% for business class in two weeks – the first increase for local routes in 14 years.

But from today – the day when the domestic route is rationalised with AirAsia coming in as a major local airline – MAS is increasing its fuel surcharges and imposing a RM14 administration fee for each ticket issued.

The new fuel surcharge for flights within the peninsula and within Sabah and Sarawak is RM20 – a hike of RM5. For flights between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak, the surcharge goes up by RM15 to RM51.

This means that for a return flight between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, a passenger could end up paying as much as RM250 extra for an economy class ticket.

These increases were announced by MAS managing director/CEO Idris Jala to reporters at a briefing on the airline's new role in the domestic sector from today when the local route rationalisation takes effect and low-cost carrier AirAsia becomes a major player.

Justifying the increase, Jala said: “Now that we have taken over the profit and loss for our domestic operations, it is imperative that we consistently stay ahead of the pack and offer travellers more compelling reasons to fly with us.

“We have to ensure that we offer customers fares that are transparent, with no nasty little surprises or hidden costs when we provide value-add services to our customers.

“While price will be a consideration for most, travellers also expect to have an all-in-one ticket that offers a more comfortable experience when they fly, such as weatherproof access to aircraft, allocated seats, more legroom and free refreshments on board.”

Saying the airline’s domestic fares were “still among the lowest in the world” even with the fare increase, he explained that the cost of flying domestic with MAS was only 62 sen per mile, which was lower than the costs of flying in countries like Thailand, China, the Philippines, France and Japan.

This is the third time this year that the national carrier has increased the fuel surcharge and the fourth fare structure increase since the new management took over last year.

In May, the airline announced a fare increase for its KL-Singapore route by more than 55% for first class passengers and almost 20% for economy travellers.

On Jan 1, the airline raised its ticket prices by between 5% and 14% for certain international routes.

Two months earlier, MAS increased its first class and business class fares to the United States by between 48% and 167%.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the Government would not interfere in MAS’ decision to raise its domestic fares effective Aug 15.

He said MAS and AirAsia had been given the liberty to decide on their fares, after the rationalisation of domestic routes.

“We will not step in until consumers feel the pinch,” he told reporters after chairing the MCA disciplinary board meeting here yesterday.

Source: The Star

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