KOTA KINABALU: MASwings might begin its international flights next year if everything goes as planned, according to its chief executive officer Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang.
Expecting a positive result next week, Nawawi said they were planning to expand their services to the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines – East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
He said they were kicking off with two routes via the state capital, namely Kota Kinabalu-Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and Kota Kinabalu-Tawau-Tarakan (South Kalimantan), and two from Sarawak, Kuching-Pontianak (West Kalimantan) and Kuching-Bandar Seri Begawan.
He said they were awaiting approval for the four routes, adding that currently, it has been tabled in the Cabinet meetings of both states.
“We are expecting positive answers since we believe the expansion will help us to widen MASwings’ operations in promoting accessibility to these locations, and also to help promote Sabah and Sarawak.
“MASwings sees that both Sabah and Sarawak have great potential, especially when tourism and nature is concerned, and believe a lot of people come here for either education or its health services,” he said.
If everything goes well, MASwings is also planning to expand its services to Balikpapan and Banjarmasin in Indonesia, apart from several locations in the Philippines and Irian.
Since its inception in 2007, MASwings has flown to over 20 destinations in East Malaysia with some 940 flights weekly compared to 450 flights when it first started.
“Last year we flew in some 1.2 million passengers, and for 2011, we have targeted to increase the numbers to 1.3 million. To date, the figure has surpassed 1.2 million,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Nawawi said although MASwings is just a subsidiary company to the national carrier, it has shown encouraging growth.
“MASwings recognises the support from the people, therefore to make us as the brand name here, we will strive to offer the best services to our passengers.
“We (MASwings) should be the brand for Sabahans and Sarawakians. Our staff should be proud of themselves for being able to provide the best services to the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nawawi said Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) decision not to use Kota Kinabalu as its hub will not affect MASwings’ operations in the state.
Nawawi said instead, they will be focusing on implementing the task to provide the best services to the passengers.
“We believe that we will remain as the choice for Sabahans and Sarawakians,” he said after presenting certificates to 10 full time and two part time MASwings Cabin Crew graudates during a graduation ceremony, yesterday.
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.
The media report, quoting a source, 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.