Wednesday, August 17

MASwings annouces BIMP-EAGA expansion plan phase two


WIDENING THE HORIZON: Nawawi says MASwings’ phase two operation plan is scheduled to commence in July this year.

KUCHING: MASwings Sdn Bhd (MASwings) aiming for further expansions in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region announced its phase two operation plan scheduled to commence in July this year.

Since February, MASwings has successfully taken off to Brunei, Pontianak and Tarakan.

“The response has been very encouraging so far with average load factors of between 60 per cent and 65 per cent, while at certain times, load factors between Tawau and Tarakan or Kuching and Pontianak had gone up to between 80 per cent and 90 per cent,” said MASwings chief executive officer Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang.

“With the encouraging response, we will be embarking on our phase two operations by July 1, with our current three times a week flight schedule from Tawau to Tarakan increasing further to daily services,” he added.

“Moving forward phase two operations would also see a new MASwings route from Kuching to Balikpapan (East Kalimantan) that would take off in October. “On top of that, we are also looking into other regions in BIMP-EAGA, especially the Philippines.”

“We are currently sorting out the clearence and required approvals from the Philippines government and hopefully, we will be able to enter Puerto Princesa (Palawan Island) by year end. This will be the drive going forward for MASwings in its effort to support the BIMP-EAGA initiatives,” Nawawi said.

He further pointed out that if the second phase expansion plan was successfully implemented, MASwings would be eyeing for bigger types of aircraft that would be able to go beyond the current ATR range. “Hopefully, by year end, we will be able to put in this request to our sister company,” he added.

The regional airline currently owns 10 units of ATR72-500s and four HDC-6 Twin Otters. MASwings would be adding another ATR72-500s in the next few months, acquiring it from its sister company, Firefly.

MASwings has also recently undergone its fleet renewal programme where it replaced the ageing Fokker 50 aircraft with the state-of-the-art ATR75-500 series aircraft. Nawawi pointed out that ATR was an environmentally friendly aircraft with less carbon emission and noise reduction.

The ATR is also configured to 68 seats in order to allow for more leg room and aisle space, different from any other similar category aircraft operation.