Monday, May 16

Transport Ministry engaging with airlines for synergistic collaboration


Lee (centre) presenting a memento to See. Also seen are Captain Nasaruddin (left), Alias (second right) and Buckland.

KUCHING (March 16): The state Ministry of Transport is actively engaging with the air transportation industry players to ensure that they move together towards more international, regional and domestic air connectivity to and from Sarawak in future, said its minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin.

“A synergistic collaboration between the airlines and the government can be a catalyst towards creating more economic growth and development.

“All the airlines, namely Firefly, MasWings, Malaysia Airlines and Malindo, indicated their commitment and support in the development of the air transport industry in Sarawak. They observed that Sarawak has great potential in terms of growth in tourism and business travel as well as air cargo service. Sarawak is also strategically located within the BIMP-Eaga region,” he said in a statement today.

A delegation from Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) Group and Malindo Airways from the Lion Air group made a courtesy visit to Lee at his Bangunan Baitulmakmur office in Petra Jaya here recently.

The first delegation on March 14 was from the MAB Group, led by Firefly chief executive officer (CEO) Phillip See who was accompanied by Maswings chief operations officer Captain Nasaruddin Abu Bakar and MAB Sarawak Government Relations manager Alias Suut.

The second delegation was from Malindo Airways on March 15 led by Malindo CEO Captain Mushafiz Mustafa Bakri, accompanied by Malindo director of Public Relations and Government Affairs, Raja Sa’adi Raja Amrin.

The main purpose of their courtesy visit was to establish close rapport and strong relationship with the Ministry of Transport in particular and the Sarawak government in general.

They were also keen to know the potential growth of the air transport industry in relation to Sarawak’s development up to 2030.

See also mentioned that they will look into having direct flight from Penang to Miri and vice versa in the coming months, especially when the border between countries starts to re-open.

Currently, Firefly has been approved by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to operate seven flights weekly on the Penang to Kuching route and will start their inaugural flight on April 11.

Captain Nasaruddin highlighted that MasWings had increased their flight frequency between Miri and Lawas from four times daily to eight times daily starting last month. The approval was given by Ministry of Transport Malaysia and Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) as the Rural Air Services (RAS) is under Public Service Obligations (PSO).

Captain Mushafiz mentioned that Malindo is a full-service airline and they are also offering business class seats to business passengers and that they also have rebranded their airline as Batik Air Malaysia. The airline will be working together with Batik Air Indonesia under the Lion Air group.

Captain Mushafiz also mentioned about Malindo Airways’ commitment to support Sarawak in building the air connectivity especially with the opening-up of Nusantara, the new capital city of Indonesia on the other side of Borneo Island in Samarinda, Kalimantan.

The airlines were also briefed on the potential in the oil and gas sector in Sarawak, and Shell Malaysia will be moving their upstream activities headquarters and their 2,000 staff across Malaysia to Miri.

Besides, Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) will also start operations in Miri. With this in hand, it is opportune for the airlines to strategise and plan their flight connectivity to Miri City.

Also present with Lee during the courtesy visits was the ministry’s permanent secretary Datu Buckland Bangik.