Pricey airfares hinder festive homecoming for S’wakians residing in peninsula

Steep airfare prices have become the culprit making return trips a financial strain for many Sarawakians living and working outside Sarawak. — AFP file photo

KUCHING (March 26): For many Sarawakians living and working outside the state, returning home for holidays or emergencies can feel like an uphill battle.

Steep airfare prices have become the culprit that makes return trips a financial strain.

United World Academy Malaysia founder Aziza Aznizan, 27, from Kuching remembers a time when visiting home was a breeze.

“It was so affordable when MYAirlines started. I loved it so much, I could come home every month. However, with the airline’s closure, the prices were again so expensive,” she recalled in an interview with The Borneo Post yesterday.

“It’s cheaper for me to fly to Bali, Bangkok, and Krabi. So my travel to Sarawak automatically reduced by 50 per cent. It’s so frustrating to fly to Sabah and Sarawak with international flight pricing.”

She believes the high costs disproportionately impact Borneans living outside Sarawak.

“Many times when there was an emergency, I couldn’t get back home on time because it was too expensive or fully booked. It really is a struggle.

“No wonder most Borneons living in Kuala Lumpur don’t fly back home often. I’m starting to understand why,” shared Aziza.

This sentiment was shared by Samarinna Tolhip, 27, another Sarawakian living outside the state.

“Air tickets back to Sarawak are always so expensive, especially during festive seasons like Hari Raya, Gawai Dayak, and Christmas.

“It can get pretty overwhelming for me to buy my ticket back to Kuching because I usually buy them last minute since my workplace sometimes gives short notice,” said the actress and model.

Samarinna highlighted the financial burden, revealing that she did not fly back to celebrate Gawai in 2022 because the flight ticket was too expensive.

Meanwhile, EJ Lee, a 23-year-old stylist and actor, agreed that such airfares have been posing a financial burden for Sarawakians during festive and peak seasons.

“Air travel going back to Sarawak is quite expensive every time during the festive or peak season. This affects the plans mostly for Sarawakians living in Peninsula to go back to their hometown due to expensive airline tickets,” said EJ.

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