Thursday, March 21

Termination of Kuching-Shenzen flight bad for tourism

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Tiang speaks to reporters over the suspension of the Kuching-Shenzen route by AirAsia.

BINTULU: The termination of Sarawak’s only direct flight from Kuching to Shenzen will greatly dent the state’s domestic tourism sector.

AirAsia has recently confirmed it will suspend its non-stop service between Kuching and Shenzen, China effective Feb 28 due to ‘commercial reasons’.

Michael Tiang, the Youth chief of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), said although the route was replaced with a new package called ‘fly-through from Kuching-KL-Shenzen’, it will badly affect the number of tourists to Sarawak due to the increasing cost that they will have to incur.

“I was very disappointed with such announcement because Shenzen-Kuching is Sarawak’s only international direct flight and yet it has been suspended and according to news report, it was a commercial decision.

“I doubt it is due to commercial decision, because according to past record the passenger load was above 75 per cent.

“So it is very hard for the public, especially Sarawakians, to accept the fact that it was commercial decision to terminate such direct flight route,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) Chinese New Year open house at the Civic Centre here yesterday.

Tiang wondered whether there was any political or federal government pressure from Peninsular Malaysia to force the low-cost airline company to make such a decision, saying based on commercial viability, it is very hard to believe.

He claimed that AirAsia was actually doing very well for the Kuching-Shenzen route.

“As we all know, Sarawak is having the Visit Sarawak Year, and we really need international direct flight to Sarawak.

“Fly-through is nothing new, all Sarawakians know that we have been flying through KL and other destinations for years and for decades.

“That is a very bad package for Sarawak. Tourism will suffer because most of overseas tourists are reluctant to come to Sarawak bypassing KL, because there will be added cost, expenses and added time and that is not going to be ideal and helpful to Sarawak’s domestic tourism,” he added.

At the same time, he also urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) representatives in Sarawak, especially from Democratic Action Party (DAP), to speak out for fellow Sarawakians.

“Malaysians have given DAP 42 seats in Parliament, come on show your 42 seats performance, give your 42 seats responsibility and speak for Sarawakians.

“In the past election campaigns, either the state or parliamentary election campaigns, many DAP leaders from Peninsular Malaysia said they love Sarawak, they want to treat Sarawak fairly. This is the time for them to speak out for Sarawak,” Tiang, who is the political secretary to the chief minister, said.

The state DAP, he added, should help Sarawak at this moment since they are in the government, and they are obliged to fight for Sarawak’s welfare and interest.

“I fully support our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for pushing for our own airline. It is a timely decision.

“This is the time, Sarawakians should give our CM full support to have a Sarawak airline, it’s the right decision and right time to do it,” he said.