Friday, August 04, 2006

Sarawak seeking nod for open-sky policy

KUCHING: Sarawak has asked the Federal Government to accord it an open-sky policy to allow foreign airlines, especially those from Singapore and Brunei, to fly into the state.

State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said the move would pave the way for “hubbing” strategies and provide more international links to boost the state’s tourism industry.

“The state government has appealed to the Federal Government to reinstate some of Malaysia Airline’s flight sectors, including Kuching-Perth, Miri-Kota Kinabalu, Miri-Mulu, Kota Kinabalu-Mulu, Sibu-Kota Kinabalu and Kuching-Mulu,” he told the state assembly recently.

The national carrier stopped operating these routes under a rationalisation exercise. It also cancelled its Kuching-Sydney and Kuching-Frankfurt flights.

Wong said by making Kuching a new hub, low-budget airline AirAsia would provide more inter-state travel opportunities between Sabah and Sarawak as well as to Asean countries.

“It will facilitate the growth of the tourism industry within Sarawak and stimulate, at the same time, travel between Sarawak and the peninsula,” he added.

The Kuching hub serves four destinations – Kota Kinabalu, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.

To meet the increasing demand from tourists, four new hotels were expected to be operational in the state capital between late 2008 and 2010, Wong said.

Wong said the state recorded 1.4 million visitors in the first four months this year, up by 5.7% over the corresponding period last year.

Source: The Star

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