SARAWAK’S air connectivity woes may soon see a positive resolution.
Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Johari Tun Openg has given his assurance that “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.
On Monday, a group from the State government led by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Mahmud and Datuk Amar Johari met with officials from Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
Datuk Amar Johari said the meeting was to “strategise what is best for Sabah and Sarawak and also our connectivity with the international destinations”.
He said there could be a possibility of MASWings becoming a regional airline.
He also explained that while there won’t be a Sarawak-based airline as many had hoped, the State has “a viable alternative aviation plan” for the airlines.
The Star reported that part of the State’s plan involved having flights from Australia land in Kuching before heading to Kuala Lumpur.
Flights from Europe, said Datuk Amar Johari, would stop in Kuala Lumpur before travelling to Kuching.
Using the same aircraft, he said, would shorten transit times for passengers, which had led to the loss of potential tourists to the State.
Sarawak’s main focus is on “sustainable” flights to give “a new dimension” to airlines existing routes, he said.
“I think we are now back on the right track. Let me put it this way, the (MAS) management is responsive to us because our alternative solution is very viable economically,” he added.
He also indicated that the picture may become clearer in a month’s time.
A report from The Borneo Post:
Abg Jo: Flight uncertainty may be over soon
KUCHING: Worries caused by the uncertainty of flights by the people in Sarawak and Sabah now will soon be lessened and perhaps solved, Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said.
He said this after a “very fruitful and successful meeting” between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and the state government here earlier yesterday.
“We had a very fruitful meeting this (yesterday) morning with the top management of MAS led by the chairman Tan Sri Yusof and the managing director Datuk Jauhari together with the Chief Minister and myself.
“However, at the moment I cannot reveal what we are going to do but the meeting is really good and there is light at the end of the tunnel, particularly for us to strategise what is best for Sabah and Sarawak and also our connectivity with the international destinations,” he said.
He added that the details would be worked out between the state government to be led by him and the top management of MAS, which should be ready in a month’s time.
“As I promised earlier, give me two months, so now there is an engagement between us and MAS and I am sure that at the end of the day the problem faced by Sarawak and Sabah, particularly Sarawak, will be reduced and perhaps solved,” he said.
He said this when speaking to the media after receiving a courtesy call by the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Miles Kupa at his office at Wisma Sultan Tengah in Petra Jaya here yesterday.
Meanwhile, to a question from the media, Abang Johari said the rationalisation exercise involving FireFly should not be a problem as there would be a substitute to FireFly.
He, however, said the details would only be revealed when the time was right.
“You know very well that I have said there is a possibility that MasWings can be turned into a regional airline. But that has to be discussed further,” he disclosed.
He said that good connectivity between the state and other parts of the world was not only good for tourism industry but also other sectors of the economy.
He said because of that it had always been the hope of the state to be well connected with the rest of the world, especially the important hubs.
“What we are more concerned is for Kuching, particularly Sarawak, to have international connectivity that at the same time can provide convenience to travellers, particularly tourists,” he stressed.
He said among others the layover time should not be too long, and there must not be change of aircraft for overseas travellers coming to the state who only stop at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for embarking and disembarking.
“There is no problem for a short stopover but there shouldn’t be any change of aircraft because that will be very inconvenient for passengers,” he said, adding that these were among the areas that should be seriously looked into.