THERE have been calls recently for Hornbill Skyways to expand its services and become a commercial airline.
This comes after the announcement that Firefly will be pulling out of Sarawak following the new deal between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia.
Among those making the call are former Assistant Minister of Tourism and now Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Research & Marketing) Datuk Mong Dagang and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Batu Kawa Chief Datuk Ahmad Ibrahim.
“I think it is high time that we look at our contribution in expanding the tourism industry,” said Datuk Mong in a report by Borneo Post.
“If there is enough load factor and capacity for Hornbill Skyways to expand into an airline, I think it is a good idea for us to look into the proposal seriously.”
He pointed out that there should be an open-sky policy as competition is good for the people, tourists and the tourism industry.
Datuk Mong also expressed concern on the cancellation of flights into Sarawak, which he said would curtail the development of state tourism.
“I think the tourism industry players are also worried that there are not enough airlines into the State particularly low cost carriers which can bring in a lot of tourists particularly from West Malaysia and Singapore,” he added.
Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd, was established in 1977.
Its current fleet of aircraft consists of a Citation X executive jet, two Beechcraft King Air 200s and a range of helicopters (EC 135, Bell 430, Bell 206 L4 and Bell 206 B3).
Although getting even small passenger aircraft such as the ATR 72-500, which MASWings uses, would be very expensive, it is something worth considering if the State wants control over its air connectivity.
Currently we are at the mercy of the airlines.
Remember the fiasco with FAX? Once the company’s boss got the approval to fly overseas, the community airline route was thrown right out the door and completely forgotten. Or at least they hope the people of Sarawak have forgotten.
The point is that as long as we are dependent on airlines based in Malaya to serve our needs, we will never have much say when they suddenly decide to cancel routes they feel are unprofitable.