Airlines give load facts on Sarawak ops

KUCHING: Ample seats are still available on Malaysia Airlines flights from here to several destinations in the country, even after a reduction in flight frequencies following the recent route rationalisation exercise. State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said statistics had shown that the national air carrier recorded an average of only 38.9% load for the twice daily flights on the Kuching-Johor Baru sector. MAS had reinstated the Kuching-Johor Baru service on Aug 14 after appeals from travellers. The average load on the daily flight between here and Singapore from Aug 1 to 24 was 60.4%.

Wong said MAS operated four daily flights from here to Miri and the average load recorded since Aug 1 was 67.6%. For the Kuching-Kota Kinabalu sector, the average load for the two flights a day was 76%. However, a higher average load of 79.8% was registered for the Kuching-Sibu sector (three flights a day). The complaints that the reduction in flight frequencies have badly affected travellers are therefore not true, Wong told reporters after a briefing by MAS and AirAsia on their Sarawak operations at his office here yesterday. Statistics have shown that there are still plenty of seats available. The briefings were presented by MAS area manager for Sarawak and west Kalimantan Shauqi Ahmad and AirAsia station manager Eddie Tan. Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie was also present. Shauqi said MAS needed a load factor of 70% to break even in its operations. AirAsia will make available statistics of the load factor in its Sarawak operations early next week. Tan said AirAsia would put a second aircraft in its regional hub here in three weeks 45 days earlier than planned.

With the additional aircraft, he said AirAsia would increase its daily frequencies between here and Bintulu to three from the present two. MAS ceased its Kuching-Bintulu service this month. Commenting on MAS new domestic fare structures, Wong said that although there was a general increase in the fares, travellers could get discounts if they planned their trip early.