KUCHING: Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) has given its assurance that flights between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia will continue in the third phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO) said federal Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
He said following his discussion with MAB’s senior management, the airline has assured that it would continue providing one flight per week from Kuala Lumpur to three destinations namely Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu.
“These services will be connected via MASwings from these destinations namely Miri-Bintulu-Miri; Kuching-Sibu-Kuching; and Sibu-Bintulu-Sibu.
“In the event that demand increases, the airline will add additional flights to Kuching, Miri or Kota Kinabalu starting next week,” he said in a statement today.
Wee was responding to the call made by State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) deputy chairman Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah yesterday appealing for the federal Ministry of Transport to allow airline companies to operate flights between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia at a minimum.
Following statements from MAB, AirAsia and Malindo that all domestic flights will be cancelled starting tomorrow until April 30, Abdul Karim said domestic flights are still needed for essential travel as well as shipping of essential supplies like face masks and food items.
Wee said MAB has also assured that its cargo services to carry essential goods including food and medical supplies to Sarawak have not been suspended throughout the MCO.
“Cargo flight services to Sarawak and Sabah will continue to operate at three times per week from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching; Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur to Labuan.”
He added that MASwings flights within Sabah and Sarawak will continue to operate.
“If there is increased demand, MAB is prepared to increase its flight frequencies.”
Meanwhile, Wee said his ministry did not issue any instructions to airlines such as MAB, AirAsia or Malindo to suspend their flights to Sarawak and Sabah.
“On March 26, AirAsia Group Berhad issued a statement announcing a temporary suspension of all international and domestic flights designated ‘AK’ from March 28 to April 28, 2020.
“In the same statement, AirAsia assured that the decision was also made in order to ensure the well-being of passengers and employees as the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
He also said MAB had halted their operations following drastic drop in passenger load to 10 per cent to 15 per cent on their flights.
“That difficult decision was made after MAB suffered significant losses which could have led to more dire consequences if flight operations were to continue,” he said.