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KUCHING, Nov 9: The Sarawak government will have to find ways and means to ensure that rural air connectivity is maintained after it was reported MASwings will stop flying six routes in Sabah and Sarawak by next year.
Infrastructure Development and Transportation Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing expressed disappointment over the latest decision.
“It is most unfortunate. Despite government subsidies, they can’t sustain these rural routes.
“It (the decision) will reduce rural connectivity. It will have a negative impact on culture, adventure and nature tourism in Sarawak.
“The Sarawak government will have to find ways and means to ensure rural air connectivity is maintained, until road connectivity to rural towns is achieved.
“There is an urgent need for us to find rural air service replacement including holding discussions with AirAsia,” Masing who is Deputy Chief Minister told DayakDaily today.
The Star yesterday quoted Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as saying that MASwings will cease operations for six routes in Sarawak and Sabah by next year to make way for commercial airlines.
The routes are Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu-Tawau, Kota Kinabalu-Miri, Kuching-Miri, Kuching-Kota Kinabalu, and Kuching-Sibu.
The decision was made after a study was done on rural air services (RAS) by the Malaysian Aviation Commision (Mavcom)
The study found that the six existing routes had a high load factor of up to 86 per cent, making it more profitable for commercial airlines.
The six routes will be opened to commercial airlines.
MASwings has been operating RAS in East Malaysia almost exclusively with RM160 million in annual subsidies provided by the government to cover operations and plane costs, reported the Star. — DayakDaily