Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Sarawak renews MASwings contract for another seven years

KUCHING: The government has renewed MASwings Sdn Bhd (MASwings)’s contract to provide rural air services for another seven years, effective Jan 1 next year.

This was disclosed by MASwings chief executive officer Aminuddin Zakaria, who pointed out that the new agreement would also be changed from rural air services to ‘public service obligation’.

“Our 10-year rural air services agreement will expire on Sept 30 this year, which the government has extended to Dec 31.

“Then on Jan 1, 2018, this is when the new agreement will commence for another seven years,” he told reporters during a private luncheon with the media at a hotel here yesterday.

He pointed out that the new agreement would be administered, managed and advised by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), while the Ministry of Transport would serve as the policymaker.

“We are hoping to finalise this agreement by the middle of this year,” he said, adding that the agreement would have to be a collective one between the Ministry of Transport, Mavcom and the state government.

He also disclosed that there would be a revised business plan for MASwings, which might enable the commuter airline to fly further.

“However, we are still in negotiation with the state government and if the plan falls through, then MASwings could possibly and potentially get new and bigger aircraft,” he remarked.

According to Aminuddin, MASwings is currently embarking on a Fleet Improvement Programme (FIP) this year as part of its efforts to improve its reliability and performance as an airline.

“In view of the new agreement starting next year, we don’t want a repeat of what MASwings has been known for – that is ‘delay, delay delay; cancel, cancel, cancel’,” he said, referring to the carrier’s notoriously high frequency of delays and cancelled flights over the years.

“We want to be fresh and make sure our fleet of aircraft is ready to take on the next seven years. Apart from that, we want to bring back our customers’ confidence and improve our reputation from being an airline of ‘delays and cancellations’, to an airline that ‘meets performance’.”

One of the measures taken is to conduct an overhaul on the airline’s ATR72-500 fleet.