Saturday, September 09, 2006

Airlines commit to ensure flight frequency in Sabah, Sarawak

By George Francis

MIRI - All three airlines - MAS, Air Asia and FAX - have committed to take pragmatic steps respectively to ensure flight frequency servicing the air routes in Sabah and Sarawak to ensure passengers' connectivity to their destinations, Transport Minister said here yesterday.

On flights delay, the airlines had also been directed to take remedial actions to avoid such incidents unless due to circumstances beyond their controls, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy told reporters here.

He was on a working visit to know more about the new carrier Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) operating the Rural Air Services (RAS) that took over from MAS, since the government's rationalisation of domestic routes.

He said his Ministry and Civil Aviation Department would evaluate the achievement of the airlines and to take appropriate action to ensure they offer satisfactory level of services.

The minister, accompanied by Datuk Peter Chin, Minister of Plantation Enterprises and Commodities, also Miri MP, said since Aug 1 of the rationalisation policy enforced, a lot of complaints and grievances had been hurled at FAX on some teething problems and inconveniences faced by the consumers, especially rural hinterland folks whose accessibility to the outside world are only by airplanes.

According to him, among the issues are lack of flight frequency in numerous sectors of Sabah and Sarawak as compared to before the rationalisation, problems of connectivity and flights delay.

The minister held a close-door dialogue with representatives from hinterland and tourism industry related players.

Chan said, however, a task force under his ministry had given order to address the flights delay for MAS to reinstate the flight sectors such as Miri-Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Bintulu.

Also, MAS will fly daily to the two sectors from Sept 18, making a total flight of 14 per week.

The national airline will also increase flights for Kuala Lumpur-Labuan from seven to 14 flights per week, and Kota Kinabalu-Labuan from 14 to 21 flights per week beginning the end of this month, but will be subjected to availability of lease for Boeing 737.

MAS also is in the planning process to increase services on sectors for Kota Kinabalu-Tawau, Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan and Kuching-Sibu but much will depend on the demands, said Chan.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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