SIBU: Air Asia Malaysia chief executive officer Riad Asmat has yet to respond to the Sarawak Transport Ministry’s call to reconsider the company’s plan to suspend Singapore – Miri and Singapore – Sibu flights, effective Feb 21 next year.
Sarawak Transport Minister Datuk Seri Lee Kim Shin said that the letter from his ministry to Asmat, dated Nov 8, also called for the airlines to continue and maintain the two routes, with a reduced flight frequency, until low load problems are solved in the future.
“Once the load is stabilised and improved in the future, Airasia may increase the flight frequency for the two routes. Currently, Airasia Berhad is operating four times from Singapore to Miri and three times to Sibu weekly, with an average load capacity of 69 per cent and 67 per cent respectively,” he said in a statement today.
The ministry, on Nov 7, received an email from AirAsia Berhad stating that the airline will be suspending the two flight sectors, due to low load factors, heavy losses and as part of rationalisation of their fleet operations.
Meanwhile, he said Scoot Pte Ltd, through its chief commercial officer, Calvin Chan, had reaffirmed SCOOT’s Airlines plan to increase flights to Sarawak, particularly Kuching and Miri, as well as starting a new route to Sibu next year.
Lee said that the actual date for the increased flights and route to Sibu could not be ascertained now, pending the arrival of new aircraft, which would most probably be in the second quarter of 2024.
He added that SCOOT is currently flying daily from Singapore to Kuching and three times weekly to Miri since February 2022, and it would be timely for the airline to increase their operation to Miri and Sibu, since both destinations play an important role for business travellers and nature loving tourists.
“We believe that this initiative will boost tourism and economic activity in Sarawak, where Miri and Sibu have been highlighted as one of the main tourist attractions, with numerous wildlife, pristine rainforest and a harmonious social environment,” he said.
Apart from that, he said Miri would also receive additional flights from Firefly Sdn Bhd, which would operate two flights weekly between Miri and Kota Kinabalu, starting Nov 22.
“We believe that this initiative will be the beginning of stronger relations between Firefly Sdn Bhd and Sarawak, thus boosting air connectivity for business, investment, and tourism activities between Sarawak and other states,” he added. – Bernama