Friday, January 21

Lee: Airlines directed to resume normal flights to Sarawak, lower airfares

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Travellers are seen at Kuching International Airport. — Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Jan 14): The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has directed all airlines to resume their normal flight schedule into the state and lower airfares, said Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin.

The Transport Minister said this follows the increase of weekly flights to Sarawak from outside the state by 83 per cent – from 307 flights to 562 – starting today.

“Now it is up to the airlines to start operating on the new flight frequency and schedule starting Jan 14. The details are made available on the MoTS website at mot.sarawak.gov.my,” he said in a statement.

Lee said weekly flights to Kuching will increase from 149 to 279, Miri from 61 to 127 flights weekly, Sibu from 45 to 83 flights weekly, and Bintulu from 38 to 59 flights weekly.

“Currently, the Ministry of Transport Sarawak (MoTS) is communicating with Ministry of Transport Malaysia (MoTM), Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and all the airlines on the new flight frequency approval for their next course of action – which is to confirm their flight schedule through aerofile to Mavcom, mobilise their manpower and aircraft to meet the new flight and schedule requirements,” he said.

He said a discussion with MoTM, Mavcom, Immigration Department, Civil Defence Department (APM), and all airlines was held yesterday (Jan 13) to finetune the new flight frequency and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all travellers and passengers entering Sarawak.

Among the new SOPs set by SDMC to encourage travellers to come to Sarawak was the lifting of the requirement of EnterSarawak approval for Sarawakians, Malaysians, and non-Malaysians who are fully vaccinated and have been in the country for at least the last 14 days.

However, they still need to fill in the eHealth declaration form upon entry.

“With this increase in flight frequency, SDMC has directed all airlines to resume to normal and lower flight fares.

“Airlines are also reminded to assist and ensure that only fully vaccinated passengers are allowed to board their aircraft. This is very important to ensure that the new SOP is being followed closely and (prevents) Covid-19 from spreading further in the state,” he said.

Lee also reminded all travellers and passengers coming into the state to comply strictly with the SOPs established by the Ministry of Health (KKM), National Security Council (MKN) and SDMC.

Prior to SDMC’s decision to increase the weekly flights to Sarawak, Lee said his ministry had prepared and presented the proposal to the committee for consideration and approval on Jan 12 after consulting all airlines.

He said the proposal was granted as Sarawak is now under Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan as well as additional flight requests from the public with the Chinese New Year celebration approaching.

He added other contributing factors that led to the approval of the increased flights include the low number of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak; international travellers coming to Sarawak via Peninsular Malaysia are quarantined in Kuala Lumpur; as well as part of the effort to promote the state’s tourism industry.

“SDMC and MoTS strongly believe that with the new higher flight frequency as well as lower flight fare, the lifting of interstate travel restriction, declining of positive Covid-19 cases in Sarawak will activate the revival of business, social, and tourism activities in Sarawak,” he said.