KUCHING International Airport (KIA) will soon emerge as a transportation hub for the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), along with Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
This follows the Federal Government’s approval of the proposal to make MASwings a regional airline.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri called the move a forward-looking one that East Malaysians have been hoping for.
He’s right because with MASwings servicing routes in Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines from Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, the two cities will become regional entry points for many international destinations.
Being a Sabahan and the Member of Parliament for Kudat, Datuk Abdul Rahim would of course understand the true scenario for Malaysian Borneo.
In a report by Bernama, he is quoted as saying that MASwings’ foray into the growth areas would also propel tourism in the two states.
This is indeed welcome news because we all know that Sarawak’s tourism industry greatly depends on air connectivity. We have already lost tourists such as 4,000 golfers from South Korea thanks to Firefly’s pullout and the lack of flight options. (Read my post on Oct 24)
Making Kuching International Airport a regional will also augur well for the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), under which tourism is a growth node.
What’s also reassuring is the Deputy Minister’s statement that although MASwings will become a regional airline, it would still “remain committed to provide the best service domestically especially in rural areas”.
“This is in line with MASwings’s objective to provide subsidised air service in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak which are not accessible by road,” he said.
Datuk Abdul Rahim also added that the government had spent about RM150 million to subsidise MASwings’ operations for rural air services in Sarawak and Sabah.
The story from Bernama:
KK And Kuching Airports To Emerge As Transport Hub For BIMP-EAGA
By Newmond Tibin
KOTA KINABALU, Nov 23 (Bernama) — The federal government’s decision to allow MASwings to launch its first phase of operations into the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is a forward looking move long awaited by the people of Sabah and Sarawak, says Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.
He said the move by the airline, which serviced Sabah and Sarawak, would transform the Kota Kinabalu and Kuching international airports as transporation hubs and regional entry point for international destinations.
Abdul Rahim said MASwings’ foray into the growth areas would also propel tourism in the states.
“With the extension of services and business, MASwings will remain committed to provide the best service domestically especially in rural areas.
“This is in line with MASwings’s objective to provide subsidised air service in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak which are not accessible by road,” he told Bernama Wednesday.
Abdul Rahim said each year, the government spent about RM150 million to subsidise MASwings’ operations to provide travel convenience to the rural folks of Sabah and Sarawak.
On Monday, chief executive officer Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang said the foray into international destinations, would be another milestone in the airlines’ history.
He said MASwings, expected to receive the long-awaited approval to operate into the BIMP-EAGA soon, hoped to launch the first phase of its operations by early next year.
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.