MASwings starts Kuching, KK flights to BSB

Managing Director of MASwings Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang (R), speaking during a press conference, with Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, at the Airport Restaurant yesterday after the landing of MASwings' inaugural flight. Picture: BT/Goh De No

Thursday, February 2, 2012

THREE MASwings aircraft arrived and departed Brunei International Airport yesterday, marking the trials for the airline's Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB)-Kuching route and the addition of two daily flights to Kota Kinabalu (KK).

MASwings managing director Announcing this yesterday at a press conference at the Airport Restaurant, following the first aircraft arrival, Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang said the airline has "explored the potential and indication is very good". The MASwings may even fly to Kuching daily in future, he further added.

"From KK to Brunei it's only RM$33 or $15. To Kuching, it's only RM$233 one way and return is a bit more than RM$400. In terms of the potential, it's there, the market in this area, in Bandar Seri Begawan will increase," said Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi.

The MD also said that the initial flights are part of a testing period.

"Imagine RBA (Royal Brunei Airlines) operated the Kuching route three times weekly and it has stopped. There must be a reason for that. So, we need to see the real market, and the demand for these sectors. If within a few months, it is strong, we can surely increase. Now, we are in the trial stage," he said.

"Now we fly three times a week. If there is demand, we will increase, probably to daily flights," he said in response to questions from the media.

MASwings, a fully-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, is also looking at possibilities such as BSB to Mulu then to Kuching, or BSB to Mulu and vice versa, as well as from BSB to Miri.

"However, Mulu is not under the entry/exit point of BIMP-EAGA, and we have to register that under the BIMP-EAGA Secretariat first. Through the Malaysian Secretariat, we have already listed and indicated, so now we are waiting for Mulu to be listed as an entry/exit point of Sarawak," he said.

At the end of the year, if it is approved, MASwings may be able to introduce the Mulu sector, or even sooner during the middle of the year at the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP EAGA) Summit.

Datuk Amar Abang Zohari Tun Abang Hj Openg, minister of Housing & Development, Tourism of Sarawak said that the sectors are a possibility, especially if the ATR72-500's can land in Mulu.

"That way, people can spend one night in Brunei or two, then head to Mulu, and back to Brunei or to KK even. It's a matter of how you package it, but of course we leave that to MASwings' route planning," the minister said during the press conference.

Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi said the feedback he received regarding the BSB-Miri route is that it is more convenient to travel by land.

"Flight time is about 20 minutes, and we can mount a flight there if there are demands of course to Miri," he said.

Should the international flights for MASwings prove successful, it will eye Balikpapan, Davao and so on.

However, the worry is that it would be past the two-hour flight time, which will stretch ATR72-500's capabilities.

The Brunei Times