Why deprive Sibu folk of key commercial flights, rep questions aviation authorities

DATUK Tiong Thai King (BN-Dudong) has questioned the Ministry of Transport and Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) on them regarding Sibu as a rural town.

In this respect, he is puzzled as to why the ministry and the commission are depriving the Sibu folk of commercial airlines like AirAsia and Malindo.

The assemblyman made this point in his debate on the budget yesterday, following a recent announcement that MASwings would cease to operate its six rural air service (RAS) routes in Sarawak and Sabah next year to make way for commercial airlines.

The routes are Kota Kinabalu (KK)-Sandakan, KK-Tawau, KK-Miri, Kuching-Miri, Kuching-KK and Kuching-Sibu.

“The people of Sibu have expressed their concern that the two sectors which they have always been requesting to open up – Sibu-Miri and Sibu-KK – were not considered in the afore-mentioned exercise.

“We presume that the two routes are still considered routes under RAS and will continue to be exclusively provided by MASwings, of which the service is downright inefficient, unreliable and expensive,” stressed Tiong.

He thus appealed to the state government to intervene in the matter and refrain from agreeing to include Sibu as RAS in the new contract agreement for MASwings.

“Maybe it is time for Sarawak government to seriously consider establishing its own airline to serve the people of Sarawak.”

According to Tiong, Sibu being the gateway to the state’s central region is as equally vital as Kuching in the south and Miri in the north, as far as state tourism is concerned.

As such, he hoped that the ministry concerned would continue supporting the tourism industry in the central region in terms of funding, promotions, short-term programmes as well as holistic and specific inclusion of Sibu in the State Tourism Master Plan in the long-term.

He said Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) – where he is also the chairman – had taken the initiative to host Visit Sibu Year (VSY) 2017, which had reaped remarkable results in attracting regional and international tourists.

“However, it is most unfortunate that until now we have not received any news or feedback from the government as well as airlines on our petition for the ‘Open Sky Policy’ to establish more direct and affordable air-links with regional cities like Miri, KK and Singapore,” he pointed out.

Tiong expressed his concern that the tourism industry in Sibu would continue to face uphill challenges, given the soaring airfares, inconvenience and higher costs of travel connections.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2017/11/14/why-deprive-sibu-folk-of-key-commercial-flights-rep-questions-aviation-authorities/