Time for S'wak to look at state-owned commercial airline, says union


SIBU: Sarawak government have been called to look into the possibility of a state-owned commercial airline.

Airline Workers Union Sarawak (Awus) president Jagjiwan Singh said that with a home-grown commercial airline run by the state government would enable better connectivity within Sarawak and beyond, instead of being dictated by airlines from outside the state.

It will also ensure Sarawak is connected to the right destinations of choice, he said on Tuesday (Oct 27).

Jagjiwan added that the current early retirement scheme being offered to Malaysia Airlines employees is the third since the first round of lay-offs, through a mutual separation scheme (MSS) in 2006.

The second round of lay-offs was from 2015 till 2017 through a voluntary separation scheme (VSS).

Malaysia Airlines System Bhd (MAS) itself was also closed in 2015 under a restructuring programme and was replaced by a new company, MAB and its other subsidiaries with MAG (Malaysian Aviation Group) eventually becoming its parent company.

"Many Sarawakians employed by Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiaries in Sarawak were hard hit during the restructuring schemes in 2006 and 2015 as there are not many areas in Sarawak that have a need for skills related to the airline industry," he said.

He said many of the affected workers were also past their prime for reskilling to other industries and pay-outs from the MSS/VSS didn't last very long due to various personal commitments prior to their lay-offs.

Awus, he said, commended Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for taking a keen interest in the latest developments affecting MAB.

The union is hopeful this will make it easier for the state government to provide assistance to the affected Sarawakian employees to be assimilated into other industries in the state.

"The statement by the Chief Minister shows that he is closely monitoring the latest developments with a view of assisting affected Sarawakians currently employed by the national airline.

"This is a welcome sign, and timely," said Jagjiwan.

Awus represents airline workers attached to the Malaysian Aviation Group (MAG), and its subsidiaries; Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), MASwings Sdn Bhd (MW), Aerodarat Services (ADS), and MASkargo based in the state.

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