Sarawak, Sabah scratch MASwings plans

MASwings current network within Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei (click to enlarge)

The state governments of Sarawak and Sabah have withdrawn its initial plans to buy stakes in Malaysia Airlines’ regional carrier MASwings

Sarawak’s Minister of Tourism, Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, said investing in MASwings, a wholly-owned unit of Malaysia Airlines, would “no longer bring any additional benefit to the state” considering that the restructuring had met the state’s initial objective of keeping routes in the region coming into East Malaysia. He said the federal government has ensured that the interests of Sarawak and Sabah will be the primary decision to expand MASwings’ routes, especially within the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Openg said MASwings would become the feeder airline for the BIMP-EAGA routes as well as within the Sabah and Sarawak.

He added that the two states had a common stand to work with existing airlines to protect their interests, such as through the MASwings route expansion which was in line with the government’s initiative to woo more tourists to the two states and making Malaysia a destination during a promotional campaign for Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

MASwings will commence three weekly lights from Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan on February 1, 2013. The airline will also add routes to Puerto Princess in Palawan Island, Philippines, by March 2013 and Zamboanga in Mindanao, Philippines by June.

At present, MASwings is operating 10 turboprop aircraft. Malaysia Airlines has just placed an order for 16 new ATR 72-600 turboprops to replace and expand MASwings aging fleet.