KOTA KINABALU: Soon-to-be-launched direct air links by MASwings Sdn Bhd (MASwings) to the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) destinations should boost trade and tourism within the sub-region, says BIMP-EAGA Business Council Sabah Chapter chairman Roselan Johar Mohamed.
Describing MASwings’ decision as a wise move, he said, it was aptly in line with the sub-region’s main aim to bridge the economic gap among member states.
“The economic disparities can be narrowed if the people can come together to do trade as and when opportunities arise. The destinations are so near yet our people are so far apart. This is not good for us.
“MASwings is literally promoting travel and tourism and subsequently yielding more trade for our people. Trade is a crucial area for our nation.
“Money will change hands and our economy will become more vibrant, which is good for investors,” he told Bernama when asked to comment on the significance of MASwings’ plan to launch the first phase of its BIMP-EAGA operations to Brunei and Kalimantan by early near year.
MASwings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) currently serves Sabah and Sarawak. Its chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Nawawi Awang was quoted as saying recently that the foray into international destinations marked another milestone in the airlines’ history.
It would pave the way for many people to travel to Sabah and Sarawak, increase tourist arrivals and open up more business avenues, he said.
Welcoming this initiative, Roselan hoped the much-awaited approval for MASwings to operate the flights would come fast, with no more unnerving delays.
“The public must share the sentiments that all business enterprises must be allowed to start their businesses fast because the nation expects the private sector to do the spending.
“If unnecessary delays occur, then Malaysia will be pushed backward,” said Roselan, a prominent figure in Sabah’s shipping industry.
He said the people should also be grateful to AirAsia Bhd (AirAsia) which had made air travel very cheap to everyone.
“I’m very sure the earlier travellers have now become successful business people. I’m glad that MASwings is now doing the same thing except that they are flying to places which AirAsia may have overlooked.
“This simply means that we cannot afford to have competition for new routes that MASwings is about to start, at least for now, later perharps,” he added.
The BIMP-EAGA was established in 1994 as a collaborative initiative by Brunei. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, all of which are Asean member nations.
In a joint statement after the conclusion of the BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting in Cagayan De Oro, in the Philippines, recently, the four countries agreed to find ways to improve air connectivity in the region.
This include initiatives to expand air links with possible additional destinations outside the sub-region. — Bernama