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AirAsia clarifies high Peninsula-Sarawak fares

November 28, 20216 minute read
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AirAsia clarifies the high Peninsula-Sarawak fares for those anxious to return to vote in the State election or visit family for the holiday season. The unavailability of flights is another sticking point  upsetting travellers

Why high Peninsula-Sarawak fares?

In a statement issued today, 27th November, AirAsia wishes to clarify its position with regards to the views and concerns expressed on social media that the airline is charging high fares for flights between Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak for the upcoming Christmas and holiday season that coincides with the State election scheduled for 18th December 2021.

The statement continues:

AirAsia has been continuously engaging the Ministry of Transport Sarawak (MOTS) and submitted applications to permanently increase its scheduled flight frequencies from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah into Sarawak on several occasions since early this year, including the latest request submitted last week which included the operation of extra flights for the upcoming holiday season, Christmas and Chinese New Year.

The airline has today received confirmation from MOTS and the Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) for an additional 42 weekly flights from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah into the State for a limited period of 4th December 2021 up until 5th January 2022. This has brought the fares down from around RM1,000 one way to below RM200 for a Kuala Lumpur to Kuching flight and these were very quickly snapped up.

Riad Asmat, CEO of AirAsia Malaysia made it very clear that the airline is doing all it can to offer as many seats as possible at affordable prices.

…. As a low cost carrier, we are a volume business in order to pass on the lowest fares to our guests.

He added that “AirAsia’s operation is all about economies of scale where we need to achieve a high passenger volume so that costs can be spread among a sizeable number of passengers, allowing us to offer travellers low fares and giving them great value for money. Historically, our average fare for flights between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia has been around RM160 per one way passenger. This takes into account the highest fares and the lowest, including when we offer zero fare promotional sales.

“AirAsia’s pricing model is similar to other airlines world over and is based on supply and demand. In abiding with the limited flight frequencies imposed by the SDMC resulting in a reduced supply of flight seats, AirAsia’s demand-based dynamic pricing mechanism has inevitably derived prices seen as unfavourable to buyers at this time. It must be remembered that this is also the same mechanism that we used to offer guests promotional fares from as low as RM99 one way earlier in October.

“As a general rule, fares will be higher, closer to the travel date and during peak holiday periods when our flights are already near full. Buyers have already taken up to 90% of our capacity on most flights. The limitation on the number of flights available in the market is a key factor that has pushed the prices higher across all airlines.

“For the record, AirAsia used to fly over 300 weekly flights into Sarawak pre-Covid, connecting Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and various other destinations in Malaysia. Just for Kuala Lumpur – Kuching alone, we used to fly between 12 and 15 flights daily on this hugely popular route before Covid, but with the the latest approval today, AirAsia will be flying 5 daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kuching which is a 67% reduction in our capacity due to the restrictions by SDMC.

“Many guests had been able to grab our low fares when we ran a special promotion at the end of October with flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sarawak selling from as low as RM99 one way. We comprehend that demand is there but at the moment we are unable to meet it until more flight approvals are given.

“We would like to express our sincere appreciation to SDMC and MOTS for the additional flight approval for the Christmas holiday season. However, we would like to appeal to MOTS and SDMC to also approve our request for extra Chinese New Year flights, and to remove frequency restrictions on all the approved flights entirely to enable us to better manage cost efficiency and lower the fares for passengers.

“AirAsia is always committed to providing affordable fares and value for money, underscored by our mantra, “Now everyone can fly”. Throughout our existence we have enabled millions of people to fly with our affordable fares, including those flying for the very first time, but the inability to scale up our supply to meet the demand due to the flight restrictions has hampered our ability to continue to offer lower, affordable fares.

“AirAsia has always pledged our full commitment and support towards the full reopening and resumption of travel and tourism activities in Sarawak as well as looking forward to continuing to work closely with all relevant regulators, the federal and state governments, civil aviation and health authorities, and tourism bodies  to ensure the highest standards of compliance and conformance are in place for every single flight that we operate.”

AirAsia included a handy comparison of flight frequencies operated by and/or approved for AirAsia between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah pre-Covid and presently. This excludes domestic flights within Sarawak. However, as can be seen in the table, they have managed to score flights on four new routes which will save a transit connection for some travellers.

[table style=”table-striped”]


Weekly Frequency

Pre-Covid Before
Oct 2021
Oct 2021
1st Nov 2021
4th  Dec 2021 -5th  Jan 2022
Kuching-Kuala Lumpur 88 2 10 21 35
Kuching-Johor Bahru 28 2 14 14
Kuching-Kota Kinabalu 28 2 7 14
Kuching-Penang 14 2 7 7
Kuching-Kota Bharu 3 2 3 3
Kuching-Langkawi 3 3
Miri-Kuala Lumpur 35 1 4 7 14
Miri-Kota Kinabalu 17 2 7 7
Miri-Johor Bahru 3 2 3 3
Miri-Penang 3 3 3
Sibu-Kuala Lumpur 35 1 2 7 14
Sibu-Kota Kinabalu 14 2 7 7
Sibu-Johor Bahru 10 2 7 7
Sibu-Penang 3 3
Bintulu-Kuala Lumpur 21 1 2 7 14
Bintulu-Kota Kinabalu 14 2 7 7
Bintulu-Johor Bahru 3 3
TOTAL 310 5 39 116 158

Book your flights on the AirAsia website or download the airasia Super App from the Apple App StoreGoogle Play Store or Huawei AppGallery.

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Sarawak Cultural Village, Damai Beach
# AirAsia, COVID-19, Flight Resumption, Increased flight frequency, Peninsula-Sarawak flights, Post-Covid Travel
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