PETALING JAYA: Local entrepreneurs and frequent travellers are concerned over the impending increase in airport fees for flights departing from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Starting June 1, passengers flying out of KLIA 1 to any of the nine ASEAN countries will see their travel fee increase to RM73 from the current RM35.

According to Al Jazeera, the fee hike frustrates some Malaysians, who argue that the airport’s services do not justify the higher charges.

“Baggage clearance that takes forever is also an issue. More immigration counters should be opened to reduce long waits in queue – this is also part of the services,“ entrepreneur Jehan Abu Bakar said.

Lawyer Lim Wei Jiet, also expressed his disappointment: “If the service at our airports has been reliable and good so far, I don’t think many Malaysians would mind. However, it’s clear this is not the case.”

The prolonged suspension of the Aerotrain, a critical transportation link within KLIA 1, has further fueled discontent when Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that the ageing Aerotrain, which has been offline since last year for upgrades, is slated to is set to resume operations no earlier than the end of this year and no later than March 2025.

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Starting June 1, passengers departing from KLIA 1 will encounter an increase in travel fees to ASEAN countries, rising from RM35 to RM73 while travel outside ASEAN will maintain the current rate of RM73.

At KLIA 2, utilised by Air Asia, fees for ASEAN travel will rise from RM35 to RM50. Conversely, travel beyond ASEAN from KLIA 2 will see a reduction in fees, dropping from RM73 to RM50.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission said the changes are necessary “to support the aviation sector’s recovery and adaptability in the post-Covid-19 pandemic environment”.

However, not all Malaysians are opposed to the fee increases.

Economist Carmelo Ferlito believes the revised fees remain “very much within a tolerable range,“ especially when compared to regional airports.

“Despite not having restored the Aerotrain service, KLIA 1 remains a pretty good airport when compared to its regional peers. It is much more comfortable than Bangkok and Manila for sure,“ he was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

While the fee hikes at Malaysia airports have drawn criticism, it is worth noting that the charges remain lower than some neighbouring countries.

In Thailand, for instance, the Airports of Thailand (AoT) authority is set to implement a significant increase, with passenger service charges at six international airports rising by 30 baht (RM3.90) to 730 baht (RM94.85) per person, effective April 1.

This increase is aimed at covering the costs of implementing a new common operating system for airlines.

Peneraju Foundation chief executive officer and a seasoned traveller both domestically and internationally, Ibrahim Sani expressed support for the fee hikes, emphasising on the government’s necessity to expand its tax revenue sources.

“The increase will help fund the airports’ upkeep and growth,” he was quoted as saying.

ALSO READ: MOT acknowledges views on KLIA for reference and as lesson - Loke