Sunday, June 16

Sabah Air urged to talk to Brunei Airlines on setting up airline

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Air Sdn Bhd should consider talking to Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) about its plans to set up an airline in Borneo.

This is because RBA is an established and successful airline, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee said.

Yong pointed out that setting up an airline is not an easy feat to accomplish as it is much more complicated and risky.

There are more rules than land transport to abide by, he said during a press conference after launching SAPP’s “Sabah Economic Plan” here yesterday.

Yong was of the opinion that Sabah Air is not suited to start an airline because an airline has major risks.

“One miscalculation on the fuel prices will kill the company. It is the fuel price that is causing problem to AirAsia today,” he said.

According to Yong, in the past, when AirAsia took over MAS’ domestic route in Sabah with its subsidiary, FAX, there were so many problems at that time prompting him to propose that the State Government consider setting up some form of airline for Borneo.

“Tian Chua seems to have picked that up by having a Borneo Airlines. But we all know that an airline is not a simple thing, it is not a bus company … an airline is much more complicated and risky, there are more rules than land transport.

“So if some form of airline were to emerge in Borneo, I would feel that the first airline to talk to is Royal Brunei Airways (RBA) using Bandar Seri Begawan as a hub. RBA has this plan before, they want passengers coming to Sabah and Sarawak to stop over in Brunei. So it is possible that Brunei can be the hub. This is part of BIMP-EAGA,” he stressed.

Sabah Air, being the only aviation company in Sabah owned by the State Government, is the right agency to talk to RBA which is already a successful airline.

“They (RBA) are efficient, I have flown on RBA and I am very happy with the service. The connectivity to Sabah is good. I don’t think the Borneo Airline will happen in the next two to three years but if you want to talk to somebody, talk to RBA,” he said.

To him, Sabah Air, as it is, is not suited to be an airline as there are many other causes involved and he added, “but Sabah Air three to four years from now, in collaboration with RBA or other international airlines, perhaps.”