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AirAsia, Borneo, Firefly, Kuching, Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak, Sarawak Economy, Sarawak Tourism, Sarawakian

Sarawak looks into possibility of regional airline

IT is good to read that the State government is seriously looking into a solution for Sarawak’s air connectivity woes, thanks to the so-called rationalisation exercise by MAS and AirAsia – which to me as a Sarawakian is more like an irrational exercise in forcing us to settle for a lack of options when it comes to air travel.

Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has confirmed that the state is looking into the possibility of a regional airline.

Although he could not reveal further details, he did say that the State is in talks with “a very important player”.

Two weeks ago there were calls for the State to upgrade Hornbill Skyways into a full-fledged commercial airline to serve the needs of Sarawakians.

Last week, the Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) and other industry players submitted three memoranda expressing their concerns to MAS, the state government and the federal government.

STF called for the state government to formulate a formal aviation policy and strategy in order to protect the state’s economic interests, especially in the tourism sector.

Federation president Audry Wan Ulok said STF also hoped the state government would seriously consider setting up a new airline to serve the needs of the state, in view of Sarawak’s poor air connectivity and the possible emergence of a domestic airline cartel that prioritises services focused on Peninsular Malaysia.

“The state government could take a controlling interest in a new airline and seek an established airline operator as a joint-venture partner to manage the new Sarawak-based airline.

“In view of our geographical location, air accessibility and connectivity is vital for Sarawak in the areas of trade, travel and tourism. Moreover, it serves to promote national integration as well as having an important social function to reunite families, within and outside of Sarawak,” she told a press conference as reported by Borneo Post on Oct 6.

This latest development with confirmation from the Minister is looking very positive and gives great hope to Sarawakians who are definitely dependent on air travel within the State and also to go to other parts of the country.

I’ll definitely keep close tabs on this topic and I think we should all keep the pressure up so that the Malaya-centric airlines can no longer hold us at ransom.

The story from The Star:

Regional airline solution

By Sharon Ling

KUCHING: The state is working on a solution to the flight woes faced by Sarawak in the wake of the route rationalisation exercise by MAS and AirAsia.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari said he was in discussions on a possible option to resolve the situation.

However, he said he could not reveal any details yet as the talks were confidential and involved “a very important player”.

Flight option: Travellers checking in at the KL International Airport. The tourism and hotel sectors in Sarawak are concerned that abrupt flight cancellations and lack of communication from MAS and AirAsia are causing uncertainty in the industry.

“We are still in the process of preparing our next move. Hopefully, we may get good news but I can’t reveal at the moment what we’re going to do, except that we feel that the state is looking into the possibility of a regional airline.

“How it will be done, let us do it. We are tackling the problem,” he told reporters at the Borneo International Beads Conference’s gala dinner on Saturday night.

Johari was asked to comment on the route rationalisation following the share swap between MAS and AirAsia, which had led to reduced flight frequencies to Sarawak.

The state’s tourism and hotel sectors had raised concerns over the matter as reduced flights meant fewer visitor arrivals.

In addition, they were concerned that abrupt flight cancellations and lack of communication from the airlines on their plans were causing uncertainty in the industry.

Earlier this week, the Sarawak Tourism Federation and other industry players submitted three memoranda expressing their concerns to MAS, the state government and the Federal Government.

Johari said he was looking into the memorandum, adding that the state had its own option.

“In the memorandum, they want an aviation policy, but to us, we have a solution to the problem we are facing. But let us do it first, then I will reveal (it) later,” he said.

Asked how long it would take, he said he needed one or two months.

It is hoped that MASwings would be a solution if it could be developed into a regional airline.

Johari had said last month that the state was urging the Transport Ministry to grant permission to MASwings to become a regional carrier serving Sarawak, Sabah and the BIMP-EAGA area.

On Budget 2012, Johari said it was comprehensive and would benefit the people.

As Housing Minister, he welcomed the proposal to build 10,000 units of Rumah Mesra Rakyat, saying that Sarawak was likely to get a part of this.

“I also welcome the allocation for the revival of abandoned housing projects,” he said, adding that on the whole the Budget would stimulate the nation’s economy.



5 thoughts on “Sarawak looks into possibility of regional airline

  1. im tired subsidizing airasia and mas all these years, so im all in if hornbill skyways could provide more option. im sure, with right management (or even idris jala at helm, if possible), they could give both airasia and mas run for they money..

    Posted by roy cheng | October 22, 2011, 11:18
    • Yes I agree Roy Cheng. If Hornbill Skyways or some other regional player can offer options to Sarawak, we should definitely support them because such airlines would be serving Sarawakians and goodness knows air connectivity is to vital in this State. We also need more flights from Singapore and other neighbouring countries. Open up our skies so that we are not forced to choose between a rock and a hard place all the time when we need to leave the shores of our homeland for work or pleasure.

      Posted by Parochial Sarawakian | October 22, 2011, 11:26
      • indeed.. we should realize now we shouldn’t rely too much on the West Malaysian. Enough is enough.. MAS and AirAsia squeezed enough money from us already, and now we were the unfortunate victim in this so-called “rationalization exercise”. All they care is to filled their coffers in expense of us who arguably has been their biggest customers for many years..

        Posted by roy cheng | October 22, 2011, 12:12
  2. Hornbill sdn bhd should have taken the golden opportunity way back in 2006,that was when the government introduces route rationalisation program.
    That see Fly Asian Xpress (FaX) set by Air Asia took over Rural Air Services ( RAS ) from MAS, and it failed after 1 year of operation as a result of too much political involvement,and MASwings was formed to take over the responsibility for RAS.
    MASwings is heavily subsidised by the government,Sarawak and Sabah government should now take advantage of it,by taking over the operation of MASwings and expand it to regional airlines that will maintain its core responsibility to ran the RAS.

    I have been involved in aviation for 30 years,since than i have seen a major ups and downs of aviation industry worldwide,new airlines with different concepts of operation have been introduced worldwide since than.Some failed and some sustain its operation to this day.

    Running an airlines is never easy,its a very expensive industry.
    As it concerned aircaft,fuel,and maintenance,especially manpower such as aircraft licence engineers,pilots and etc2.
    It can be done with a proper planning,consultation with people that have a vast experience in the industry,its a very regulated industry that requires approval from organization such as JAA/FAA/ICAO and offcourse from Dept.of Civil Aviation Malaysia/Indonesia/Philippines/Brunei to list a few.

    With the existing MASwings platform,which already have its Air Operator Certificate ( AOC )and etc2.
    Half the battle is already won,the only thing Sarawak and Sabah government need to do is to beg,request,etc for approval from Federal Government for them to take over the operation.
    Currently,there are many local Sarawakian,Sabahan who possessed the experience,expertise in aviation industry,the government just initiate the national service call,gather them to come up with ideas and suggestions,more head are always better than one,to do the rest of the set up on our road to Regional Airlines.

    The very best of luck…select the best local aviation expertise,with their combined individual experiences in the industry…with the motto to be SUCCESSFUL…
    The famous AVIATION model…for making a sound/safe/legal decisions…

    C – Clarify
    L – Lookout
    E – Evaluate > > > Decision
    A – Act
    R – Review


    F – Facts
    O – Options
    R – Risks and Benefits > > > Decision
    D – Decision
    E – Execution
    C – Check

    The above MODELs are always base on GROUP/TEAM COLLECTIVE IDEAS/EXPERIENCES before decision are finally made after going through Facts finding / Lookout(gather information) /Evaluate the facts and info.benefits etc2 / Act as per collected facts/Ideas and info./ Review all….than decision.

    Posted by Wan Mohamad Ali Bin Haji Wan Abdullah | October 19, 2011, 03:13

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