Dr Yii urges Abang Johari to scrap idea of setting up boutique airline

Dr Kelvin Yii (file photo)

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KUCHING, Nov 30: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii urges Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg to scrap the idea of setting up a boutique airline, as it may not be sustainable and economically feasible and will come at a huge economic cost to Sarawak.

Instead, Dr Yii said the State government should look at working with existing private national and private airlines to improve air connectivity especially domestic routes within Sarawak by offering incentives and even subsidies rather than operating a whole airline company which requires high investment, high cost and high levels of expertise which may not be beneficial especially over the long-term.

“While there is definitely a need to improve connectivity around Borneo and even to penetrate hubs that are important for tourism such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok and Hong Kong, but there are better and more feasible ways for the State government to do that rather than to dip their fingers in the airline business.

“Running an airline business is very tough, as well as highly regulated in terms of organisational structure, passenger safety regulations, speciality, and other aviation requirements.

“It should not be the business of the government to be in business.

“Their role is to provide a conducive environment and ecosystem for business to thrive or find ways to incentivise the private sector to come up with good and sustainable business plans for the people, rather than trying to start their own airline,” he said in a press statement today.

Dr Yii noted the State government or even the federal government generally do not have a very good track record of being involved in business due to multiple reasons, especially in a highly challenging industry such as aviation which has been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari told reporters after officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bebuling Airport in Spaoh, Betong today that the GPS government is looking to set up a boutique airline under Hornbill Skyways to expand Sarawak’s transportation sector to propel the State’s economic growth.

He pointed out the idea is to provide travellers with arrival-to-destination convenience for short-haul and economy flights without resorting to the frills of transiting, long waiting times and various other inconveniences.

On the upcoming Sarawak Election, Dr Yii opined that Abang Johari should instead find ways to provide incentives to airlines to reduce airfares so that Sarawakians can return home to vote.

On the announcement to set up a boutique airline, Dr Yii noted it was not the first time Abang Johari mentioned that as he noted the latter had also made a promise in 2019 to establish an airline.

He opined such a huge announcement is worrying as there could be a big impact on the economic safety of Sarawak.

Dr Yii, who is a member of Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak said the people should not allow GPS to have free reign in the State and there must be a strong check-and-balance in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN).

“That is why we need strong accountability and cannot give GPS a blank cheque during this election,” he added. — DayakDaily