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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Sabah And Sarawak State Governments keen to take over MASwings from troubled national carrier

East Malaysia keen to take over MASwings from troubled national carrier

Sabah and Sarawak express interests to buy MASwings from its troubled parent company, MAS. – Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Sabah and Sarawak express interests to buy MASwings from its troubled parent company, MAS. – Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Sabah and Sarawak state governments have expressed their interests in taking over MASwings, a subsidiary of loss-making and financially strapped national air carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg today told the state legislative assembly the governments of the two Borneo states would have a 50%-50% shareholding if the takeover went through
He added that the a written notice had been sent to Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the federal government investment company that had taken over ownership of the airline.
MASwings provides domestic and rural air service in the two states via a fleet of turbo-prop aircraft – principally French-built ATR72 and ageing Twin Otters.
Abang Johari said that the states' interest in taking over MASwings was revived after Khazanah disclosed the possibility of selling off some of MAS assets such as the budget airline last year.
He said that he was optimistic that Sabah and Sarawak would get their wish this time around.
“The proposal on the takeover is in view of the current restructuring exercise by Khazanah to our national carrier.”
He said that the plan was to turn the airline into a regional airline flying on routes to southern China, Hong Kong, the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-The Philippines East Asean Growth Area), and Asean cities such as Bangkok, Singapore and Jakarta apart from continuing to service rural routes.
Abang Johari, who admitted that Sarawak was unhappy with the current air connectivity, said if MASwings was under the control of the two governments, the goal of opening new tourism markets would be achieved.
“We want to develop foreign markets but they (MAS) do not want (to fly to these routes).
“With our own airline, we will achieve the target we want.”
Abang Johari also said that usually carriers like MAS and AirAsia would open new routes only to shut it down after a few months.
He pointed to the discontinued MASwings flights to Puerto Princesa in the Philippines, to Balikpapan in Kalimantan and AirAsia's direct flights to Bali and Jakarta as examples.
“They are not interested in trying to develop the route.”
At the same time, Abang Johari told the assembly that the goods and services tax (GST) would have a negative impact on air travel and tourism arrivals to the states.
He said that the GST had resulted in the increase in the cost of travelling by air.
“Public transport is zero-rated in the peninsula. Air travel, particularly to the rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak, is like a public transport.
“In Sarawak, travelling by air is not a luxury but a real necessity due to the state's geographical size, sparse population distribution and deep interior areas which are only accessible by air,” he said. – April 28, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/east-malaysia-keen-to-take-over-maswings-from-troubled-national-carrier#sthash.5mK1EsSv.dpuf

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