TAWAU: MASwings’ air services to a number of towns in the Kalimantan region in Indonesia from Sabah and Sarawak to date, has received good response, says its chief executive officer Datuk Kapt Mohd Nawawi Awang.
He said since the air service from Kuching to Pontianak in west Kalimantan began about two weeks ago, and the latest from Tawau to Tarakan, in East Kalimantan on Feb 13, the response from both Indonesian and Malaysian customers had been very encouraging.
“If the first phase succeeds, we will request for bigger aircraft to provide services to Balikpapan, South Sulawesi and Menado in Indonesia as well as Davao and Zamboanga in the south of the Philippines.
“For Kalimantan, particularly, if we succeed in the first six months, maybe by year-end, we will continue with the flights from Tawau to Tarakan and Tawau to Balikpapan.
“I am very confident of success as just in the first and second weeks, bookings have been full for return flights,” he added.
Mohd Nawawi was speaking to reporters in conjunction with the dinner function to commemorate the visit by a 22-member delegation from Tarakan who arrived on the inaugural MASwings flight from Tarakan to Tawau. The delegation was headed by Udin Hianggio.
He said the MASwings air service to areas in Kalimantan provided a boost to economic development in that area and Malaysia as well as the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines-East Asean Growth Area(BIMP-EAGA).
He said following the formation of the BIMP-EAGA in 1994, MASwings was the first company to answer the call for member nations to provide an service network to meet the groupings objective of ensuring regional prosperity.
Mohd Nawawi said Tarakan offered much economic potential which could be explored by Malaysian entrepreneurs, including those from the oil and gas industry and petroleum, fisheries, the batik industry as well as nature tourism.
Udin said Indonesia would continue to extend full support to MASwings’ service which would bring the both the people of Tarakan and Tawau who shared historic links, even closer.
He was confident that MASwings will in the future, be able to not only increase the number of flights from thrice weekly to daily, but also expand to embrace other towns in east Kalimantan such as Balikpapan and also Sulawesi. He urged Malaysians in Tawau and Sabah in general to visit Tarakan as well the diving destinations at several islands such as Pulau Derawan, Pulau Sangalaki, Pulau Kakaban and Pulau Maratua to enjoy the beauty of the marine life there.
Meanwhile, Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmood said with the presence of MASwings, tourism operators in Malaysia can provide packages to diving destinations not only in Semporna but also include Tarakan to jointly boost the industry. — Bernama