S’wak, AirAsia still discussing low-cost travel hub – CM


KUCHING: The state government is still in the process of negotiating with AirAsia Berhad on the latter’s proposal to make Sarawak a low-cost travel hub.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, however, assured that the state government would collaborate with AirAsia for the plan to be realised.

He said the location for the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) here had been decided but declined to reveal it to prevent unnecessary spiralling of the price of the identified land.

“To be fair, we are discussing with AirAsia, which will be a win-win-situation for AirAsia in Sarawak. Tony wanted Kuching to be their hub and he has his plan. So for us, we will look from that perspective because we want to make sure that everybody will gain,” he told a press conference after delivering a keynote address at the inaugural Sarawak Dialogue here yesterday.

He was referring to AirAsia Berhad Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Abang Johari welcomed AirAsia’s plan to make Sarawak its low-cost travel hub, saying more connectivity would boost tourist arrivals in the state.

“This means our food operators, our hotels, our craftsmen, our cottage industry, will benefit. So we are looking at it from that perspective,” he said.

Asked when the low-cost travel hub in Sarawak will be in operation, he answered in jest: “As long as Tony agrees to our terms.”

Fernandes, who was present at the press conference, said they chose Sarawak because it is “fantastically located”.

“Sarawak is a brilliant point between North Asia and Australia. We see it as the Dubai of this part of the world.

“People from Australia can stop in Kuching before they go to China and vice-versa; people from China, Korea and Japan can stop in Sarawak for few days and go down to Australia.

“I think it is an equitable distance and it’s a great location and that is why I am very keen to have our hub here,” he said.

Fernandes said tourists would be attracted by the low cost.

“When you open a terminal, one of the biggest costs is water and power. Water and power are abundant and reasonably cheaper in Sarawak,” he added.