SO it turns out that the State government is proposing to turn MASwings into a regional airline.
We all know that in recent times Sarawak has been badly hit by the MAS-AirAsia (ir)rationalisation exercise, which has led to the end of community airline Firefly’s run in the State.
This unholy alliance of the country’s two airlines in a share swap has caused much pain to Sarawakian travellers – both for business and pleasure.
Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip has stated in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) that Sarawak’s tourism industry and Sarawakians in general have been hit by the tie-up.
On Monday, MASwings stated that it expects to launch the first phase of its BIMP-EAGA operations into Brunei and Kalimantan, Indonesia, by early near year.
Its CEO Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang said this would pave the way for many more people to travel into Sabah and Sarawak while further intensifying tourist arrivals and business opportunities.
In case you didn’t know, BIMP-EAGA is the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines East Asean Growth Area, launched in 1994.
Now this is a start. Improving air connectivity to Brunei will actually be a big boost for Sarawak’s air connectivity. Royal Brunei flies to destinations such as Auckland, Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Jeddah, London-Heathrow, Manila, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Shanghai and Surabaya. Thai Airways, Garuda Indonesia and Dragon Air also fly to Brunei International Airport. Dragon Air is a Hong Kong-based airline, which flies over 30 destinations in 12 countries, Thai Airways flies to 72 destinations in 35 countries, while Garuda flies to 17 international destinations.
So having regular flights to Brunei will enable better tie-ups for the State and for travellers looking for alternatives to flying internationally from KLIA and Singapore.
It will also hopefully bring in more regional tourists, which in the long run, will hopefully get more airlines to see Sarawak as a destination they would like to fly to as well.
This may not be the absolute solution we are looking for, but it is definitely a start with hope for better things to come.
The Borneo Post’s report:
Talib admits MAS-AirAsia share swap impacted tourism
KUCHING: The state government acknowledged that the recent MAS-AirAsia share swap had affected the state’s tourism sector.
“The lack of public information on the future plan of this joint collaboration between MAS and AirAsia has created anxiety among industry players.
“Furthermore, Sarawak has experienced cancellations of flights and this has caused inconvenience to the public,” noted Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.
He was responding to state DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Bukit Assek) who asked how the collaboration had affected Sarawak both positively and adversely.
On Firefly ceasing to operate its Kuala Lumpur-Kuching and Johor Bahru-Kuching routes from Oct 31, Talib also noted that the move had undoubtedly left behind a vacuum.
“To address the issue, the state government has written to the federal government to express concern and displeasure on the lack of communication and consultation. The abrupt cancellation of firefly services after the announcement of the swap and collaboration between the two airlines do not augur well for the state.
“The state government has also initiated dialogues and meeting sessions to seek opportunities for foreign airlines to operate in Sarawak. The state government through Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd has offered attractive incentives such as three years free landing and parking fees and marketing support,” he said.
Talib said the government, however, had no intention to establish its own airlines.
“We are looking at various options including the positioning of MASWings as a regional airline to service Sarawak, Sabah and BIMP-Eaga region,” he added.
The reports from Bernama:
Sarawak mulls making MASwings a regional airline
KUCHING: The Sarawak government has no intention of establishing its own airline but is considering positioning rural air services operator MASwings as a regional airline, the State Legislative Assembly was told today.
Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip said MASwings can serve Sarawak, Sabah and the BIMP-EAGA, the East Asean Growth Area covering parts of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
A special delegation led by the state’s tourism minister will engage with the relevant federal ministries to convey the state’s intention, he said when replying to a question from Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Bukit Assek).
“The state government has also initiated dialogue and meeting sessions to seek opportunities for foreign airlines to operate into Sarawak,” he said.
Talib said it cannot be denied that the lack of public information on the plans following the recent share-swap deal between national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and budget airline AirAsia has created anxiety among tourism industry players in Sarawak.
He also said that the move by budget airline Firefly to cease operating its flights between the peninsula and Kuching effective Oct 31, on the heels of the MAS-AirAsia share-swap deal, did not augur well for the state.
The state government has written to the federal government to express its concern in the matter, he said. — BERNAMA
MASwings To Launch First Phase Of BIMP-EAGA Operations By Early Next Year
KOTA KINABALU, Nov 21 (Bernama) — MASwings, the airline servicing Sabah and Sarawak, expects to launch the first phase of its BIMP-EAGA operations into Brunei and Kalimantan, Indonesia, by early near year.
Chief executive officer, Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang said the foray into international destinations, would be another milestone in the airlines’ history.
It will, he added, pave the way for many more people to travel into Sabah and Sarawak while further intensifying tourist arrivals and business opportunities.
“Hopefully, in the next few days, we will be getting the long awaited approval to operate into the BIMP-EAGA.
“This will be a new dawn for MASwings, and we hope to launch the first phase of our BIMP-EAGA operations by early next year,” Mohd Nawawi said at MASwings 4th Anniversary Dinner, here last night.
State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun attended the function, on behalf of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
The BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 as a cooperation initiative by Brunei. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, all of which are member-countries of ASEAN.
In a joint statement after the conclusion of the BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting in Cagayan De Oro, in the Philippines recently, all four countries agreed to discuss ways to improve air connectivity in the region.
This included the initiative to expand the Memorandum of Understanding on the expansion of air linkages with possible additional points outside of the BIMP-EAGA for co-terminalisation operation.
On MASwings’ performance so far, Mohd Nawawi said it had recorded many remarkable achievements, particularly in terms of passenger numbers.
He said there was a marked increase in passengers from 45,000 per month in 2007 to 130,000 per month this year, representing a three-fold increase or equivalent to 300 per cent.
“Our current on-time performance (OTP) is 94 per cent, the best on-time performance ever recorded, higher than any other airline that operates in the country.
“MASwings started with only 450 flights weekly in 2007 and now its operations has increased by more than 110 per cent with 940 flights ,” Mohd Nawawi added.