Sunday, March 24

STF laments poor flight connectivity to Mulu


(Seated, from left) Ibrahim, Yong, Audry and Lim join local hospitality and tourism industry players in a group photo.

KUCHING: The reduction of MASwings flight frequency to Mulu could result in the loss of at least RM5 million in direct revenues next year, due to group cancellations.

According to Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) president Philip Yong, these are groups from major European and North Asian markets.

“The current flight connectivity by MASwings (the only operating airline) to Mulu is very poor. The flights used to be available daily but now there are available only four days a week beginning last month. This has impacted groups travelling via the Mulu-Kota Kinabalu route – a major potential source of tourists.

“Moreover, poor flight connectivity would result in cancellations and further, the reluctance by agents to feature Mulu as a tourist destination,” he said during press conference here yesterday.

According to him, another complaint from ticketing agents is that the group fares are usually higher than online fares.

“Also, the cut-off time for group bookings is too short – only a few days instead of the normal month.”

Yong also viewed that pricing based on dynamics has caused a spike in airfares, pointing out that the fare for Sibu-Kuching route could reach RM530, and Bintulu-Kuching to be as high as RM800.

He also lamented about the recent flight retiming and delays by MASwings, which he regarded as being ‘unacceptable’ and had created many problems for the agents trying to market this destination.

In this respect, Yong hoped that the government would review – and possibly discontinue – the dynamic fare structure on flights within Sarawak and those between Sarawak and Sabah, in order to have price-capping.

“The government should also review the frequency of flights between major population centres in Sarawak – namely Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri – and also improve the connectivity between these cities with Kota Kinabalu.”

Yong also said STF wanted the government to lobby the main airlines servicing Sarawak for better connectivity in between Sibu, Bintulu and Miri and moreover, enhance the connectivity between these cities with Kota Kinabalu.

“STF also requests for MASwings to conduct discussions and dialogues with tourism industry players, providing them with adequate notices before changing the flight frequency and schedules.

“Usually, the contracts for tour bookings are for the period from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.

“For these reasons and also for better promotion and development of tourism, the federation would like to call upon the state government to enter into discussions with the airline partners to solve these issues,” he said.

STF advisor Dato Lim Kian Hock, Malaysian Association of Hotels Sarawak Chapter chairman Ibrahim Nordin and STF honorary secretary Audry Wan Ullok were also present at the press conference.