KOTA KINABALU: About 96 per cent of tourist arrivals to Sabah are by air.
As such, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun is currently discussing with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) following its decision to rethink whether to make the state capital its hub.
He said a win-win solution was needed to tackle the problem, adding: “Today (yesterday) I met with MAS officials to discuss on certain issues which are related to our previous meetings. I believe that it is important to understand MAS’ point of view as they are facing financial constraints. We know that MAS needs to reduce its costs but at the same time, they need to make money.”
Speaking to reporters after officiating the state level Inventions Awards Ceremony here, Masidi added that through a win-win concept, both MAS and the state government would have to ensure that Sabah would continue to be a favourite destination amongst tourists.
It is reported that MAS, which will be relocating its headquarters from Subang to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in February next year, will cut several routes including those to Dubai, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires and Cape Town, in a bid to reduce costs, sources said.
The sources added that MAS would no longer rely on Kota Kinabalu as a hub and would cut flights out of the Sabah capital to destinations such as Haneda, Seoul and Osaka.
It was also reported that choosing Kota Kinabalu as a hub was not a strategic move in the first place and now the airline had to reverse the decision. This is the second time that MAS has abandoned the idea of using Kota Kinabalu as a hub. The first attempt was in 2003.
MAS is currently conducting a review of its entire route network and sources claimed that there would be more route cuts. However, new destinations and frequencies will be added to those that bring in the yields.
MAS claimed to have identified other destinations which they claim to be more ‘lucrative’.
Asked on whether he feels that MAS’ financial problem was critical, Masidi said its third quarter report did show that they were losing money.
“MAS belongs to us because it is an airline belonging to our country … so I believe we should also play our part to help it improve its situation,” he said.