Focus on creating conducive environment for businesses instead of getting involved in airlines, Tan urges State govt

Julian Tan

KUCHING, Dec 2: Julian Tan, special assistant to Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen is urging the Sarawak government to focus on creating a conducive environment for businesses to flourish and grow rather than getting involved in the airline business.

This follows the announcement made by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg on Sarawak government’s intention to set up a boutique airline under Hornbill Skyways during the launching of Bebuling Airport on Nov 30.

Tan in a press statement today said the Sarawak government needs to be accountable and transparent with the operation of Hornbill Skyways and how taxpayer money is spent on the company even before the new boutique airline takes off.

He thus asked how can the State government ensure Sarawakians will benefit the most from the setting up of the boutique airline and not the lobbyist or special interest group since taxpayer’s money will be used.

“Who will benefit the most from this venture?

“How much can we trust them (State government) to run the boutique airline?” he asked.

Tan said the aviation industry is a very regulated and expert intensive industry.

He noted the low-airfare model requires a complex business model that requires not just economic scale but operational scalability.

Based on some reports, Tan asserted that low-cost airlines earned little profit or made a loss by selling seats to passengers.

On the operation of airlines managed by the government, he cited national carrier Malaysian Airlines as an example of how a state-run airline business could quickly run into millions if not billions of ringgit in debts requiring taxpayers’ money to bail it out.

As such, he believed Sarawakians certainly do not want to fork out their hard-earned money to enrich those involved in the potential business. — DayakDaily