Thursday, July 18

Govt opts for foreign airlines to serve Sabah

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KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said with or without Malaysia Airlines (MAS), the state government will continue to talk to other airlines since Sabah will lose several direct flights to international destinations.

He said the state government had several high level talks with MAS, with one involving Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

“MAS have expressed commitment to look into our request but they have also stated that they cannot turn back on their decision… meaning to say we are definitely going to lose these direct flights.

“I think we should look into long-term and not short-term solutions. I am aware of their financial problem and I know they have serious financial problem, but at the same time I believe cutting down the air routes is not the only answer,” he said to reporters after representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the launching of Suria Sabah shopping mall here yesterday.

Masidi added the airline’s recent decision to suspend the routes servicing the Eastern Hub would only temporarily solve the problem facing MAS, but promoting Osaka, Haneda, Seoul and Perth with direct stop-overs at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) would certainly help the airline even for the medium term.

“However, we just can’t wait because we still have options. I have on-going discussion with China Eastern Airlines, hoping they can continue with their scheduled flights as they have started their twice to thrice weekly flights.

“We are also talking to other airlines. With or without MAS we must keep on working. We like MAS because it is our national airline, but, if we support them, they need to reciprocate by supporting Sabahans,” Masidi said.