State-Owned Airline Plan Revisited

KUCHING: Sarawak is currently working out the details regarding the proposal for it to set up its own airline company.

According to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Sarawak government is trying to revisit this 'old proposal' � previously, it had intended to take over MASwing, the regional community carrier owned by Malaysia Airlines Bhd.

The chief minister said at that time, Malaysian Airline was reluctant to sell MASwings to Sarawak.

Now, we have a few options to have our own small airline to connect Kuching with other strategic destinations across the region.

We are working out the details now, he told a press conference after the launch of 'Air Asia Sarawak Campaign Livery' at Kuching International Airport (KIA) yesterday.

Asked when the proposed state-owned airline would take off, Abang Johari replied: As soon as possible � that is my expectation.

In relation to this, Abang Johari acknowledged that at the moment, AirAsia is having difficulties in getting the right slot for the Kuching-Shenzhen flight. Moreover, Sarawak also has a lot of people coming in from Jakarta via Pontianak, he added.

Because of that, we are seriously looking at having our own airline.

At the 'Experience Sarawak' programme in Kopi-O Corner here recently, Abang Johari had expressed Sarawak government's wish of having its very own airline company and among the key reasons for this was for the state to have more direct international flights.

When we have the additional funds, we will either buy our own airplanes or set up our own airline company, he was quoted as having said then.

Abang Johari believed that upon having its own airlines, Sarawak's tourism industry would get a boost as more foreign tourists would find it easier to visit the state.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and AirAsia non-independent, non-executive director Datuk Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar were also present.

Source: Sarawak Government