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By Brad Rantayy
MIRI, Feb 19: The recent announcement by AirAsia on its decision to cancel the direct flight between Shenzhen and Kuching was a big disappointment and setback for tourism development for Sarawak in general and Kuching in particular, says Miri mayor Adam Yii.
In a press statement today, Yii said despite the fact that it was reported that these flights had a passenger load of over 70 per cent in addition to enjoying incentives provided by Sarawak government, AirAsia still chose to halt this direct flight.
“While profitability is certainly a consideration, it is also possible that other factors are at play, including the hope of obtaining better incentives from the Sarawak government,” he opined.
“The situation only goes to highlight that without our own Sarawak airlines, we will be forever at the mercy of the private airlines whose objectives are entirely on short-term commercial considerations in nature,” he said.
“Therefore I am very happy and optimistic for Sarawak tourism development, particularly Miri tourism development by the announcement by our enlightened Right Honourable Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Zohari (Tun Openg) on the setting up of our own Sarawak airlines. This is the right direction to go as far as tourism development is concerned,” he stressed.
He added, the setting up of Sarawak’s own airline will be challenging and risky.
“Unfortunately, this seems to be the only viable way forward in so far our tourism development is concerned, especially at this nascent state of our tourism development, and this is also in recognition that since we can not depend on others to assist us, we just have to do it ourselves….but we would have to make sure that a competent management team is in place to manage the airline,” he said.
Yii opined setting up an airline is no longer as daunting as before since there is a full range of airplanes of various passenger capacities and ranges are now readily available on leasing arrangement from the numerous plane leasing companies in business. The lease can be on a dry lease basis, meaning leasing the plane alone; or wet lease basis, meaning leasing the plane plus the pilots and crew, he added.
Yii also said plane leasing will have the advantage of avoiding heavy upfront investments and any long-term commitments and liabilities.
“As for Miri, I would wish to see that we have direct connectivity to Chengdu and Chongqing in China, Seoul and Pusan in Korea, Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, Taipei in Taiwan, Pontianak in Kalimantan (for the medical and educational potential) and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia,” he said.
“I am sure all Mirians are with me to support our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari’s initiative to have our own Sarawak airline. And we look forward to its realisation in the near future,” he pointed out. — DayakDaily