Flight changes hurting Sarawak
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the state would send a second memorandum to inform the federal authorities that Sarawak had been badly affected by the exercise that took effect more than two weeks ago.
“The main problem is insufficient air connectivity as the result of splitting the air routes,” he said at the annual dinner of the Sarawak chapter of the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agents here on Wednesday night.
Under the exercise, budget air carrier AirAsia took over some of the domestic routes from Malaysia Airlines. AirAsia has engaged Fly Asian Xpress to operate all the rural air services in the northern region.
In the first memorandum sent to the Federal Government last month, Sarawak outlined the problems that might arise due to the air route revamp.
The state has appealed for the reinstatement of the Miri-Kota Kinabalu, Miri-Mulu, Kuching-Mulu, Kota Kinabalu-Mulu, Sibu-Kota Kinabalu and Kuching-Perth routes previously operated by MAS.
Air travellers and tourism players have complained of insufficient flights between towns – like Kuching-Bintulu, which MAS has stopped operating – and lack of international links that bring in tourists.
In Miri, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said the oil and gas industry in northern Sarawak, which generates up to RM8bil in annual revenue, had become the latest sector to suffer from the termination of daily MAS flights along the Miri-KK-Miri sector.
Chin, who is Miri MP, said he had received feedback from the oil and gas sectors that the cancellation of the Miri-KK flights had resulted in a breakdown of connectivity for oil workers between Miri and overseas destinations via Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
“The Shell office in Miri serves as the main hub governing the oil giant’s operations in the entire Asian zone,” he said, adding that from Miri the Shell management team oversees the company’s operations in as far as China.
“Oil workers fly from Miri to Kota Kinabalu every day en route to overseas cities in China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore because Kota Kinabalu has direct flights to these overseas destinations,” he said.
Source: The Star