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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

MASwings fares up for Sabah-Sarawak routes next year

KOTA KINABALU - Fares charged by local carrier MASwings between major towns in Sabah and Sarawak are set to increase next year with the removal of Federal subsidies for some of its routes.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who disclosed this, said a review was under way for routes which would no longer be subsidised, ahead of the renewal of the contract with MASwings in 2017.

Routes served by other airlines such as from Kota Kinabalu to Sibu would no longer be subsidised, the MCA president told reporters after attending a Sabah MCA Chinese New Year gathering here yesterday.

Also present were Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahi­ruddin, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and MCA deputy president and Sabah MCA chief Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Liow said under the extended contract, the Federal Government would provide subsidies to MAS­wings to the tune of RM190mil over seven years.

“The subsidies will be used for rural routes to allow folk living in remote areas to fly to towns at a reasonable cost,” he added.

The minister said the Federal Government had no qualms in allowing MASwings to expand its operations beyond its existing 49 destinations within Borneo.

“We are encouraging MASwings to serve destinations within the East Asean Growth Area,” he added.

The EAGA comprises Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan, Brunei, Minda­nao and Palawan in the southern Philippines, as well as the Indone­sian provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Maluku.

Asked if MASwings would be allowed to acquire and operate jet aircraft, Liow said there were no restrictions for the airline, which now has a fleet of ATR72 500 and ATR72 600 aircraft, as well as Twin Otter planes.

“They can use other aircraft. There is no problem with that,” he added.

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