Sarawak to look into aircraft leasing while commence building ART next year

KUCHING, Sept 20: The Sarawak government is considering leasing three aircraft to resolve the state’s air connectivity issues while it will commence Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) system next year.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the initiative aimed to facilitate existing airline connectivity in the state as well as the state’s tourism industry.

“We are in the midst already, except that we have to do certain things in due diligence. I cannot reveal (too much) yet because it’s a commercial initiative. We have to look at the viability as well as feasibility of it. We do not want to go in and then it fails.

“As long as we can cover the cost. What is important is that this airline is not to make money. It’s just to facilitate so that our tourism industry will benefit across the board – the spillovers,” he told reporters after officiating at Sarawak Housing Estates Developers Association (Sheda) Property Expo 2019 at BCCK here this afternoon.

Whether it would be wet lease or dry lease has yet to be decided, he added.

Wet lease means leasing the aircraft together with its crew or pilots, while dry lease involves only the leasing of aircraft.

“The cost should not be that high because as you know, we are also collecting our tourism tax, and we are investing in tourism. It’s part of our investment, as long as it can cover the operation cost (of the proposed airline),” said Abang Johari.

Asked if the aircraft would be leased from Maswings, Abang Johari neither denied nor affirmed but to disclose that the negotiating is still ongoing and that the federal government is in the midst of selling the Malaysia Airlines (MAS)

“As you know, the federal government was said to be trying to sell off Malaysia Airlines,” he said, without further explanation.

On a related issue, Abang Johari said works to implement the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) system in the city will begin next year.

“We have to do the roadworks first, starting next year. It is cheaper by one-third of the cost of Light Rail Transit (LRT).

That is their estimate. So basically ART doesn’t need rails. We just extend our existing roads to have a dedicated lane for the ART system because it uses tyres,” he said. — DayakDaily