KUCHING (Nov 27): Singapore’s low-cost carrier Scoot will increase more Sarawak-Singapore and Singapore-Sarawak flights once it purchases more aircraft, said Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin.
According to the Transport Minister, he recently discussed with the management team of Singapore Airlines Group, which owns Scoot, in September to increase flight frequency from Singapore to Kuching and Miri.
“During the discussion, Scoot Airlines had also agreed in principle to operate the route from Singapore to Sibu which is tentatively planned to commence after the delivery of their new aircraft in 2024,” he told a press conference after his ministerial winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly here today.
He was asked for comments following AirAsia’s decision to suspend its Singapore-Miri and Singapore-Sibu routes starting Feb 2024, where the airline cited operational strategies.
Lee said he had personally discussed the matter with AirAsia’s management team and urged them to reconsider their decision or alternatively reduce the frequency of these routes to meet the required load capacity.
“For now, we wait for concrete feedback from the management team,” he said.
Meanwhile, in his ministerial speech, Lee said that as of Nov 2023, international flights to Sarawak were recorded at 40 flights weekly – mostly from Singapore with 35 flights weekly; Jakarta, Indonesia (3); and Brunei Darussalam (2).
He also said Kuching International Airport receives 31 international flights weekly; Miri Airport (6); and Sibu Airport (3).
The routes are served by AirAsia Berhad, AirAsia Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines Berhad, Scoot Tiger Airways and Royal Brunei Airlines. Formerly, also MyAirline.
“MyAirline Sdn Bhd has ceased its six flights daily operation from Sarawak to Kuala Lumpur since Oct 12 this year, and we are indeed disappointed with their abrupt decision to suspend their flight operations.
“This has caused a great deal of inconvenience and unhappiness among passengers who had purchased their air tickets in advance. It is estimated that until March 2024, approximately 24,260 passengers, inbound and outbound of Sarawak, were affected by this suspension.
“My ministry deems it irresponsible of MyAirline for failing to provide prior notice regarding the suspension,” he said.
However, Lee lauded the Malaysian Aviation Commission and other airlines for their cooperation and assistance given to all affected MyAirline passengers.
On another matter, he said the total number of aircraft and passenger movement to all airports and STOLports in Sarawak from January to this year’s third quarter was 97,129 aircraft movements bearing 7.8 million passengers.
The flights are mainly from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kota Bharu, Labuan, Bandar Sri Begawan, Jakarta and Singapore.
“For the same period, a total of 41,890 tonnes of cargo was transported. This cargo includes electrical and electronic goods; oil and gas equipment; e-commerce goods; dangerous goods including flammable materials; perishable goods such as fruits and fresh flowers; and general cargo such as fabrics and clothing.
“As for Malaysia domestic flights, after the suspension of MyAirlines operations, Sarawak receives an average of 372 flights weekly from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kota Bharu and Labuan,” he said.
As for Sarawak domestic flights, it was revealed by him that there are 624 flights weekly connecting Sarawak major cities, towns and rural settlements under Rural Air Service.
He said Miri Airport handles the highest number with 189 flights weekly, followed by Kuching International Airport (144), Sibu Airport (63), Bintulu Airport (40) and the rest to smaller airports and STOLports respectively.
“The flight operations are operated by AirAsia, Firefly and MASwings,” he said.