33 international flights and 586 domestic flights part of new weekly flight schedule to Sarawak

File photo of an airplane on the runway at the Kuching International Airport.

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By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, MAY 24: The number of approved weekly flights into Sarawak now stands at 619, comprising 33 international flights and 586 domestic flights, says Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin.

According to Lee, his Ministry is closely monitoring the number of flight frequencies into and within Sarawak, as there must be enough flights to meet the needs of travellers and for the movement of cargo.

“From January 2021 until the first quarter of this year, the total number of aircraft and passenger movement to all Sarawak airports are 93,539 aircraft movements and 3.56 million passengers.

“For the same period, a total of 82.3 million kilogrammes of cargo movement was recorded in all Sarawak airports including STOLports,” he said.

In his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today, he stated that the flight frequencies have been greatly reduced since the imposition of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020 to control the spread of the Covid-19 infection in Sarawak.

“However, with the lifting of border closure due to the improvement in the Covid-19 situation in the country, the frequency of flights has gradually increased, but not without issues, as reported in the media,” he said.

Lee went on to say that his Ministry is also working closely with the relevant aviation authorities to study the possibility of increasing the flight frequency, especially during the festive season, and expanding flight coverage to other international destinations within this region.

“In fact, I have personally met and discussed this proposal with the chief executive officer (CEO) of the airlines namely AirAsia Berhad, Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd, FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd, Malaysia Airlines Berhad, and MasWings Sdn Bhd.

“My Ministry will also make a similar arrangement to have discussions with Scoot Tigerair Private Limited and Royal Brunei Airlines Sdn Bhd on the same proposal,” he added.

Furthermore, he stated that there has recently been a public outcry over the high airfares charged by airlines to passengers for flights into and within Sarawak, particularly during the recent festive season.

“I would like to inform this august House that my Ministry is very concerned about this and has forwarded the matter to the Ministry of Transport Malaysia and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) for immediate action.

“In fact, I have also personally brought up the matter directly with the Federal Minister for Transport,” he clarified.

Lee, who is also Senadin assemblyman, explained that subsequently, remedial action was taken by both the Ministry of Transport Malaysia and Mavcom to ensure that air ticket prices are reasonable.

Moreover, he mentioned that another issue raised by the public is the frequent rescheduling of flights by the airlines.

“On this matter, my Ministry has conveyed our displeasure on this issue to the airlines and requested minimum disruption to the published flight schedule into and within Sarawak, which has caused untold inconveniences to the travellers.

“My Ministry has also informed and requested the Ministry of Transport Malaysia and Mavcom to take the necessary action on this matter,” he noted.

“Additionally, I have written and conveyed to the CEO of the airlines during my discussion with them that all airlines flying into and within Sarawak must use an aerobridge for the safety and convenience of all passengers especially the children, elderly, and persons with special needs.

“I want to thank the airlines and Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad for their support in using the aerobridge for all their flights into and within Sarawak,” he remarked. — DayakDaily