‘State should set up own airline to meet its needs’

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Sitting, November 2017

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Datuk Tiong Thai King

KUCHING, Nov 13: Dudong assemblyman Datuk Tiong Thai King has suggested the state government consider setting up its own airline to serve the needs of Sarawak.

He said Sibu is ready to receive both local and overseas visitors and Sibu Municipal Council has taken the initiative to host Visit Sibu Year 2017 which has reaped remarkable results in attracting regional and international tourists.

“However, it is most unfortunate that until now, we have not received any news or feedback from the government as well as airlines on our petition for the Open Sky Policy to establish more direct and affordable air-links with regional cities like Miri, Kota Kinabalu and Singapore.

“Until such realisation, the tourism industry in Sibu will continue to face uphill challenges in terms of soaring high airfares, inconveniences and higher cost of travel connections,” said Tiong while debating the State Budget 2018 at the State Legislative Assembly here today.

On the cessation of six MASwing routes in Sarawak and Sabah by next year, he said the people of Sibu expressed their concern that the two sectors (Sibu-Miri and Sibu-Kota Kinabalu) were not considered when commercial airlines take over the earlier mentioned MASwings routes next year.

“We presume that the two routes are still considered routes under Rural Air Services (RAS) and will continue to be exclusively provided by MASwings whose service is down right inefficient, unreliable and expensive,” said Tiong.

Tiong also voiced out against classifying Sibu as a rural town.

“How could the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) consider Sibu as a rural town? Why should the MOT and MAVCOM deprive the people of Sibu of commercial airlines like AirAsia and Malindo?

“I strongly urged the state government of Sarawak to intervene and refrain from agreeing to include Sibu as Rural Air Services (categorisation)  in the new contract agreement for MASwings.

“Maybe it is time for the Sarawak state government to seriously consider establishing its own airline to serve the people of Sarawak,” said Tiong. — DayakDaily