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By Adrian Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3: The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) is monitoring the load factor of the rural air services (RAS) in Sabah and Sarawak provided by MASwings Sdn Bhd (MASwings) in order to improve air transportation in both states.
Deputy Transport Minister Hasbi Habibollah said based on the information by Mavcom, the commission will decide the frequency and routes to be added in RAS.
Hasbi pointed out that it is important to access the load factor of aircrafts to prevent flights in particular MASwings from flying without passengers.
“For example in the past, the capacity for the Kuching-Limbang route was not in full capacity.
“The flight was reroute from Kuching to Limbang and Miri and vice versa to increase the load factor to at least more than 60 per cent.
“At the moment, we are monitoring the situation from time to time and also on the inter-state travel decisions by the federal government as part of the efforts to further improve RAS,” he said in the Parliament today.
Hasbi was replying to Libaran MP Datuk Zakaria Mohd Edris who wanted to know the measures taken by the Transport Ministry to improve RAS in the current Covid-19 pandemic situation and MASwings routes connecting Kota Kinabalu to other towns in Sabah such as Lahad Datu, Sandakan and Tawau.
Hasbi who is also Limbang MP revealed that until October 31, the load factor for MASwings’ ATR72 aircraft was just 40 per cent while for the other aircraft twin-otter, the load factor was 67 per cent.
Elaborating further, Hasbi said MASwings’ ATR72 aircraft carried 422 passengers daily or approximately 2,954 passengers a week while the twin-otter aircraft transported 249 passengers a day or approximately 1,243 passengers a week.
Earlier, Hasbi said the federal government signed a contract in 2017 with MASwings for the continuation of RAS from 2019 to 2024.
He said based on the agreement, MASwings was required to provide 40 routes in Sabah and Sarawak using ATR72 and twin-otter aircrafts as compared to the previous 49 routes.
Hasbi explained that the flight frequency and destination were based on criteria set in the public service obligation (PSO) under Section 2 of the Malaysian Aviation Commission 2015 (Act 771).
He explained that the rationalisation of RAS was based on the usage of the aircrafts and operation cost at the optimum level and the needs of the people in Sabah and Sarawak.
He revealed that MASwings has two flights daily for the route from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, Sandakan and Tawau in Sabah.
Nonetheless, due to Covid-19, Hasbi said the flight for the route was reduced from twice a day to three times a week since August 2020. — DayakDaily