Friday, August 14, 2009

Sibu-KK route is MASwings’ after all

KUCHING: AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes appears to have relented in the tussle for the direct Sibu-Kota Kinabalu route with MASwings.

He told Utusan Borneo yesterday that the route was part of an exclusive agreement between the government and MASwings for the rural air service (RAS).

“We don’t have a choice,” he said. “We do not intend to initiate any meeting to discuss the matter as AirAsia is also opening up a lot of flights to other destinations.”

He said that many people were disappointed when news of the termination of the route got out last week. Among those who had voiced their disapproval to him was the Foochow association.

While some might view AirAsia negatively as a result of the termination of the route, he pointed out that his company had contributed greatly to tourism in Sarawak from all sectors and this could be verified with the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB).

“This is not a cherry picking issue,” Tony stressed, referring to allegations made against AirAsia by MASwings managing director Mohd Salleh Tabrani.

AirAsia is to terminate the route on Oct 25 after it started servicing the route about four months ago. When Tony confirmed the termination of the route last week, he indicated that AirAsia was being forced out of it.

He had told reporters in Kota Kinabalu last Thursday that AirAsia would like to continue covering the route because it was good for tourism and for the economy.

“We were caught by surprise by the MASwings protest and to learn that the airline has exclusive rights to the RAS routes,” he said, explaining that to allow a commercial airline to service rural routes would mean that the government would spend less money on subsidy to MASwings.

In retaliation, Salleh issued a statement on Tuesday that denied that MASwings was forcing AirAsia out (refer to Salleh's comments in our blog).

Continue reading at: Sibu-KK route is MASwings’ after all

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