KUCHING: Sarawak aims to complete the takeover of MASwings Sdn Bhd within the next three months, says Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
This comes after the state Transport Ministry, state-owned Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd and Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the management of rural air services by acquisition of shares in MASwings here yesterday.
MAG is the parent company of MASwings.
Abang Johari said the MoU paved the way for due diligence and detailed discussions between the state and federal transport ministries on the takeover.
“I give them about three months. If possible, by next year we want to start flying,” he told reporters after the signing ceremony.
Abang Johari said Sarawak wanted a controlling stake in MASwings for it to become the state’s own boutique airline.
He said it would be a small airline flying to regional destinations, with Kuching as a hub.
“At the moment, MASwings flies rural air services only in Sabah and Sarawak.
“Our proposal to the Federal Government in taking over MASwings is that it has to fly beyond Borneo.
“This means regional destinations about six to seven hours away, including Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, India and northern Australia,” he said.
In his speech earlier, Abang Johari said the state-owned airline would not be profit- oriented but to serve the people better.
“The objective is to expand air connectivity, regulate the aviation market and ensure fair competition within Sarawak and the region.
“This airline will be able to provide essential air services even on less profitable routes, ensuring no region is left without air connectivity,” he said.
He added that as part of the MoU, a joint working committee would explore the possibility of including the Sabah state government in equity acquisition in the ensuing negotiations, as guided by the Federal Government, in the interest of rural air services in Sabah.