MASWings not flying to Brunei upsets more quarters

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

THE Transport Ministrys refusal to give MASWings quick approval to become a sub-Asean air carrier will upset more than Malaysia's tourism players.

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, East Asean Growth Region (Bimp-Eaga) Tourism Council last year submitted a letter of support to the Transport Ministry, urging it to grant MASWings rights to operate flights between the four countries.

But last weekend, the state Tourism and Heritage Ministry revealed the federal ministry was sitting on the decision.

In an immediate reaction, Bimp-EAGAs Malaysia Tourism Council chairman, Datuk Wee Hong Seng, said the council cannot understand why it is taking so long.

Bimp-EAGA wrote to the Transport Ministry last year specifically to voice our support for MASWings to operate more routes. "We had signatures from representatives from all four countries," Wee told reporters on Saturday.

Both MASWings and Firefly are sister airlines of national air carrier Malaysia Airlines, which recently underwent a share swap deal with its main rival AirAsia.

With the latest developments, perhaps plans are being pushed back, Wee said.

"But I don't see why the (Transport) Ministry would not want to let MASWings quickly expand," Wee added that tourism players in the four countries had plans to spend a lot of money to promote the routes.

MASWings has been trying to secure approval from the Transport Ministry to begin Kuching-Brunei flights.

Presently, there is no flight between the two destinations, following Royal Brunei Airs cancellation mid year.

RBA is in the midst of a revamp. When the matter came to light, the state authorities were quick to announce that MASWings would take over the route.

"All this time MASWings had been subsidised to provide rural area services (RAS), and now they want to fly a route that does not need to be subsided, and yet you don't want to quickly allow MASWings to fly it?" Wee said.

He said the slow decision had nothing to do with the policies of the other three countries.The Star (Malaysia)/ANN


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