Tuesday, May 21

KK-Bintulu, KK-Sibu routes to see 165 pct hike weekly in passenger traffic


Anthony Loke Siew Fook

PUTRAJAYA: The Kota Kinabalu-Sibu and Kota Kinabalu-Bintulu sectors, which will be operated by AirAsia beginning Jan 1, 2019, will see a whopping 165 per cent increase, weekly, in passenger volume, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

He said flight service between these two sectors, which were removed from the Rural Air Service (RAS) agreement recently, would resume with 14 weekly flights for both routes, onboard AirAsia Airbus A320 which can ferry 2,520 passengers.

Previously, MASwings’ used ATR propeller planes which could fly 920 passengers weekly, Loke said, adding that passengers can buy their tickets to Bintulu and Sibu at any authorised AirAsia ticketing counter or online beginning today.

“In November, the government removed both routes from the  RAS agreement. The Cabinet then approved AirAsia Group Bhd’s commercial flight operations for these two routes given the huge demand.

“This is because AirAsia has larger flights to operate. They feel MASwings’ capacity is too low and not able to carry more passengers. The government did a study on the matter,” he told reporters after chairing the first National Aviation Council Engagement here today.

Loke said MASwings, which previously operated eight routes under the RAS framework, would seize its operations beginning Jan 1, 2019.

Passengers booked to fly these routes would be refunded, beginning today, he added.

“We have entered into a contract with AirAsia to operate these two routes, they will not be able to pull back from this agreement. If they do, they will need to compensate the government.

“Under the RAS agreement, any operational loss will be subsidised by the government, but under commercial flight agreements, there is no subsidy and the flight operator must bear losses incurred,” he said. – Bernama