State Tourism Minister Christine Liew said the decision to stop these routes, starting Jan 1, 2019, would affect the people of Sabah, as the flight helps connect the urban and rural folks and helps promote these areas to tourists.
Liew said such move will have an undesirable impact on the economy and tourism industry “We urge the Ministry of Transport and the Malaysian Aviation Commission to reconsider their decision, as this will adversely affect the people of Sabah.
“We depend on MASwings to fly passengers to smaller towns,” she added.
Liew suggested that the authorities maintain the current operations for another year, so that the Public Service Obligations (PSO) Agreement can be reviewed and re-negotiated accordingly.
She said she would raise the matter in Parliament two week from now.
It was reported last year that MASwings would cease operations for six routes in Sabah and Sarawak by 2018, to make way for commercial airlines. The routes are Kota Kinabalu – Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu – Tawau, Kota Kinabalu – Miri, Kuching – Miri, Kuching – Kota Kinabalu and Kuching – Sibu.
Former transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had said this was decided, after a study by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) was done on rural air services (RAS).
It found that the six existing routes, jointly operated by MASwings with commercial airlines like Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia, had a high load factor of up to 86%, making it more profitable for commercial airlines.
Liow had also said that MASwings was not able to sustain its operations.