Malaysia Airfare War
Zero fares offer: permissible but misleading
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) - The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has slammed "zero fares" offered by the country's two warring carriers as misleading and demand the advertisements should be banned.
There is no such thing as "zero fares," claimed MATTA president Ngiam
Foo, who has seen association members take a further blow from the economic slowdown. "It means customers don't have to pay anything at all, but in reality they actually end up paying hundreds more."
The advertisements, said Ngiam Foo, does not really benefit consumers.
Zero fares offered are not only for limited seats, but it does not specify airport taxes, fuel surcharges and other "applicable" fees and taxes in the pricing. "The advertisements should indicate an all-inclusive pricing."
Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah, secretary-general of the Federation of Malaysia Consumers Association (FOMCA), said in agreement, the advertisements should indicate the lowest to the highest prices. "If at all, the price indications are made in small prints."
According to industry observers, the price war was borne as a result of "some wild jousts" between the country's two fiercely competing carriers, upstart AirAsia and national carrier Malaysia Airlines.
Going for the ultimate blow, the advertising department of AirAsia, in
keeping with its claim of telling its customers that "Now Everyone Can
Fly" started the price war.
Shattering its shackles, Malaysia Airlines under its "Everyday Low Fares" scheme not only offer to fly one million passengers for "free" to its local and Southeast Asian destinations, but with all the comforts of a full-service airline, and even started its own low-cost carrier, Firefly, with both arms swinging at AirAsia.
Going lower than zero fares, it offered "sub-zero" fares than those advertised by Malaysia Airlines, and going even further lower by offering to "pay the difference" to any passenger who can find any Malaysian Airlines fare lower than offered by AirAsia.
Some passengers who have flown on the carriers, and not happy at the prices quoted have posted email warnings, calling the offers as "scams" by both carriers. "The additional charges are super high," said a passenger, referring to the US$300 for surcharges and taxes charged
for a Kuala Lumpur - Bangkok return flight ticket.
Despite being alarmed at the going-ons in the country's aviation industry, the government has declined to "officially" step into the market war between both carriers, preferring it to be settled by the market demand.
Similar advertising practices are now outlawed in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Advertisers are now required by law to include taxes, unavoidable delay surcharges and "applicable" fees.