Prices of S’pore-Malaysia bus and air tickets go up for Chinese New Year period

One-way bus ticket prices as well as one-way airfares to Malaysia have increased for the Chinese New Year period. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE – Malaysians based in Singapore can expect to pay more for their journey back home for Chinese New Year on Jan 22 and 23. 

Checks by The Straits Times this week showed that one-way economy airfares from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur have increased to between $77 and $749 for flights from Jan 15 to Jan 21, up from between $66 and $281 for those from Jan 8 to Jan 14.

A spokesman for Malaysia Airlines, whose lowest-priced one-way economy air ticket for travel between Jan 8 and Jan 21 is $139, said: “Due to dynamic pricing of airlines globally, high-demand flights, especially those nearer to the preferred date of travel for Chinese New Year, are currently slightly high.”

For AirAsia, the average one-way economy air ticket costs $77 for flights from Jan 15 to Jan 21, up from $69 for those between Jan 8 and Jan 14.

“As the people’s airline, and despite rising costs (of) our operations post-pandemic, we will always champion the best-value fares, which are more important than ever right now,” said the airline’s group chief commercial officer, Ms Karen Chan, who added that the company encourages consumers to plan and book their flights earlier. 

One-way bus ticket prices from Singapore to Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur have also spiked for the week before Chinese New Year.

ST’s checks showed that tickets cost from $30 to $210 for rides from Jan 15 to Jan 21, up from $30 to $80 for the week before.

For instance, bus operator Golden Coach Express has increased its one-way ticket prices for Singapore to Ipoh during the Jan 16 to Jan 24 period to between $80 and $170, up from its regular price of $45.

The company’s general manager, Mr Leong Ying Ken, attributed the increase in fares to various factors, including incurring additional operating costs during the festive season.

The company, which also runs routes to other places such as Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, will be increasing the number of buses. This will help cater to higher demand from customers, especially Malaysians heading home, said Mr Leong.

For example, the company will have to rent seven to eight extra buses and hire 14 to 16 more drivers from Jan 18 to Jan 24, said Mr Leong. The company currently has four buses and seven drivers.

Fees for Malaysia-based transport services have also risen by about 20 per cent. D’Cars Limo Transport Service, which provides limousine services between Singapore and Malaysia, has raised the cost of its one-way trips. For example, a trip from Singapore to Johor in the week before Chinese New Year costs $100, up from $80 during the same period in 2019.

The increase is due to factors such as surging petrol prices and the heavy jam on the Causeway, said its manager Ashraf Kamal Batcha.

Despite the rising prices, travel service providers told ST that demand for tickets in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year has risen by up to 40 per cent already, and they expect it to rise further.

Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Jetstar Asia and AirAsia said they have seen strong demand for flights to Malaysia. 

AirAsia’s Ms Chan said the airline has seen “a positive uplift” in demand for flights from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur between Jan 8 and Jan 21. For example, the number of seats sold for flights between Jan 15 and Jan 21 is 40 per cent higher than that for the week before.

Certain flights during peak hours on Jan 20 and 21 are fully booked, said Ms Chan, without specifying details. She added that the airline expects demand to continue rising, especially during the peak period before Chinese New Year from Jan 19 to Jan 21.

Without giving figures, Jetstar also said that the airline has seen strong demand across its network, including from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and Penang. This is because many Malaysians return home for family celebrations, said its spokesman.

Malaysian bus operator Causeway Link expects an increase of 30 per cent to 40 per cent in commuters during the week before the festive period.

To meet the higher demand, some travel providers will increase their services from Singapore to Malaysia. 

Without giving figures, Causeway Link said it will increase the number of bus services between Jan 15 and Jan 21. About 150 bus services currently run from Singapore to Johor daily.

From Jan 13 to Jan 29, Jetstar will operate 26 services from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, up from 21 currently. The airline will also operate 10 services from Singapore to Penang between Jan 18 and Jan 25, up from eight now.

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