Monday, August 10

Govt to source other airlines for air service


THE State Government wants Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to seriously reconsider its decision to re-assess whether or not to make the state capital its hub.

“If they (MAS) insist (in pursuing the decision), thenSabah’s tourism industry will face huge losses, and I believe it is the same to the national carrier. Both will be at the losing end,” Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun told the House in response to a question from Sri Tanjung assemblyman Jimmy Wong.

He said that 96 percent of tourists’ arrivals toSabahwere by air.

“MAS should look at it as part of their Social Corporate Responsibility to the people. It is easier to move around inWest Malaysiaas they can travel by car from one end to the other. But not forSabahandSarawak, we need air services to link up with other countries,” he said.

Masidi added that should MAS decide to pursue with its decision, then they will have to give at least six months notice to allow the state government to find other airlines as options for its air services.

“We will think of other alternatives rationally, not emotionally. It is best to find the best method that would give a win-win solution to both parties,” he said.

“During the Sabah Tourism Award last week, I have said we will propose that a new regional airline be established to serve the needs of Sabah and Sarawak.

“The new airline was vital and could concentrate on meeting the increasing demand of passengers flying from Sabah and Sarawak to various domestic and international destinations,” he said.

A total of 2.765 million tourists were targeted to visit Sabah next year, and of the figure, 1,880,000 would be domestic visitors while 885,000 from abroad, generating some RM4.891 billion in revenue.

He said that some RM25 billion would be channelled to the Sabah Tourism Board to develop tourism products and services in the state.

On another development, Masidi said a total of RM48,702,620 would be distributed among the Environment Protection Department, the Wildlife Department andSabahParksfor environmental protection programmes and RM22,761,430 would be channelled to the Sabah Museum Department and the Sabah Cultural Board to preserve and conserve the state’s cultural and historical heritage.