Sunday, February 23

Making ‘community airline’ dream a reality


MIRI: MASwings is making progress to realise its dream of becoming Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)’s community airline, said its chief executive officer Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang yesterday.

Mohd Nawawi said their aim was to provide efficient, safe and affordable transport service to a population estimated at over 60 million within BIMP-EAGA and the rest of the world.

The subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines is providing direct service from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Brunei Darussalam, from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau and Tarakan in East Kalimantan, and from Kuching to Pontianak in West Kalimantan. The company launched those operations in February this year.

After three months of operation, the airline decided to take on a new challenge and embarked on Phase 2 of its expansion plan. It is in the midst of preparing to expand to new destinations within BIMP-EAGA.

“I’m glad to announce that we are expanding operations into Balikpapan in Indonesia from Kuching, and into Puerto Princessa in the Philippines from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah by October 2012,” Mohd Nawawi said, adding that the airline was evaluating the possibility of introducing jet service to expand their coverage to destinations beyond the ATR 72 economic range.

“With the introduction of jet service, and the much-waited big plans for MASwings which we hope will conclude by year end, MASwings would see its network reach out to destinations in East Asia and Australasia, focussed on the North-South Axis with hubs in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching,” he said at the closing of the MASwings BIMP-EAGA Golf Challenge Trophy.

Mohd Nawawi pointed out business opportunities within the region would be explored and developed adding there were lots of untapped opportunities in equatorial Asia, comprising a 1.6 million sq km area, nine cities and an eight million population.

“MASwings looks forward to work closely with relevant agencies to develop various travel and tourism products and packages that could increase inbound and outbound tourism in the region.”

He said the airline was poised to jointly promote new products with Sabah Tourism and Sarawak Tourism Board, together with media organisations and travel agents.

“MASwings is open to suggestions and ideas for future collaboration with our partners. Our future success depends much on how effective the airlines, tourism boards, travel agents and the media in Sabah and Sarawak could work together for a common cause to position both states as preferred business and tourist destinations,” he added.

Already in the pipeline is the planned/scheduled charter operation (to be called ‘Coral Triangle Diving Heaven Charters’) between Kota Kinabalu and Davao in Mindanao, Philippines and onwards to Manado in Sulawesi, Indonesia. From Manado they will return to Kota Kinabalu.

“This would be a test of collaborative efforts between tourism boards and travel agents of three neighbouring countries taking divers to the most beautiful diving spots in the world, the Coral Triangle, in one package.

“I’ve put across this challenge at the BIMP-EAGA Air Forum Summit 2012 last month in Davao, Philippines. I’ve also set the timeline of six months for relevant parties to work together to launch this tripartite project,” said Mohd Nawawi.

“With the presence of key personalities from the federal government of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, state governments and other key players in tourism industry, I am confident our dream will soon become reality.”