Sarawak's boutique airline still at application phase, says state Transport Minister

State Transport Minister Datuk Seri Lee Kim Shin with his winding-up speech at the state assembly on Monday (May 22). - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak's proposed boutique airline is still at the preliminary application stage, says state Transport Minister Datuk Seri Lee Kim Shin.

He said the application was submitted on April 11 and added that the state government would comply with all the necessary requirements in order to get the approval for the airline.

"We have to go through all the due processes, including the aviation requirements. Safety is number one and we will comply fully, no exceptions," he told reporters after delivering his winding-up speech at the state assembly here on Monday (May 22).

Asked when the airline was likely to be approved, Lee said he did not want to speculate on it.

"Like any other airline, we will go through all the due processes and comply with them. We don't want to take short cuts," he reiterated.

Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the Federal Government agreed in principle to Sarawak's request to form its own boutique airline.

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg had said the state wanted to have its own airline to help stabilise airfares and improve air connectivity.

Meanwhile, Lee said his ministry was working closely with the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and airlines to ensure sufficient flights at affordable airfares to various destinations in Sarawak during festive seasons and school holidays.

"We are happy that the Federal Government has taken this seriously and capped the fares at RM300 one-way, excluding taxes and fees, for the coming Gawai festival," he said.

Lee also said his ministry would propose to Mavcom to develop a workable ceiling price for flights from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah to Sarawak without jeopardising the airlines' competitive edge and ability to offer discounts and promotional airfares.

"We appreciate that all airlines practise dynamic pricing based on demand and market conditions.

"We have to be realistic but the fares must be reasonable, they shouldn't go up to several thousand ringgit for domestic flights," he said.

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