KOTA KINABALU: Firefly’s decision to discontinue its flight services to Sabah could have some minor impact on the number of domestic tourists visiting the State but the effect would be short term, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
“Yes, there will be an impact in the short run but I believe they (Malaysia Airlines) are in the business to make money, so eventually if there is demand obviously it would make sense for them to add the number of flights between here and KL or other destinations,” he said.
Malaysia Airlines Group on Tuesday embarked on a network rationalisation programme which would see its subsidiary, Firefly, concentrating on serving short-haul turboprop operations and Malaysia Airlines focusing on enhancing its premium full-service offerings.
The programme will be undertaken over a two-month period on a sector-by-sector basis and will result in all Firefly jet aircrafts being redeployed into MAS’ operations by December 4.
The group assured that it would remain committed to Sabah and Sarawak and will continue to operate all services to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
Masidi said Firefly had contributed to the increased availability of flight services to Sabah, resulting in an increase of 21 per cent in domestic arrivals in the State as of August.
In this regard, he said it was hoped that MAS or AirAsia would add more flights between Kota Kinabalu and destinations in the peninsula to make up for the termination of FireFly’s services.
“MAS wants to ensure it is profitable. The demise of Firefly is obviously one of the steps they need to do in order to rationalize their operations, at least in East Malaysia,” he said, while expressing hope that the matter would be resolved soon.
Meanwhile, on a separate issue, he said the controversy in Kota Belud where affluent from a sewerage plant was polluting the Tempasuk River was based on inaccurate claims.
“My view is that it is easier to make accusation but you must get your facts right. I’m sure those people who decided on the project are people with expert knowledge,” he said, adding that sewerage was under the federal Department of Environment and not the Environment Protection Department.
Mohd Shukor Abdul Mumin had recently claimed the six-acre sewage plant was located along Sungai Tempasuk, which is still the water source of many residents in Kota Belud.
Urging elected representatives in Kota Belud to resolve the problem, he said the RM14 million sewerage was sited less than one kilometre from the water treatment plant and effluents from the sewage plant were discharged into the river, which has raised concern and anger among the local people.
Shukor said he had lodged a police report at the Kota Belud police station on April 4 against the contractor and the local authority on the implementation of the Kota Belud Sewage Master Plan.