Saturday, July 21, 2007

Most planes for MAS rural service ready by then, says Chan

Malaysia Airlines has been told to take over the rural air services from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) on Oct 1 – as had been decided by the Government.

This is despite protest from MAS that repairs on 12 aircraft, which were under dispute in an audit report, could affect the timing of the takeover and that it would be more comfortable starting operations on Dec 1.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said this was because by this date most of the planes would have been ready for operations.

“However, the Government will not compromise on the safety of our air passengers. The Department of Civil Aviation is keeping a stringent check on the Fokker 50 and Twin Otter aircraft to ensure that they are airworthy.

“Those that are not suitable to be flown will be grounded for maintenance,” he told reporters after launching TNT’s new expanded facility at KL International Airport’s cargo complex yesterday.

Chan was commenting on a statement by MAS that it wanted the 12 aircraft disputed in an audit report by Singapore’s Fokker Services Asia Pte Ltd to be repaired before beginning operations as it was not willing to put the lives of passengers at risk.

MAS managing director Datuk Idris Jala had said that although the airline was prepared to undertake repairs – estimated to cost RM40mil – it would not pay for them.

Chan added that the Fokker 50 and Twin Otter aircraft would be put under general maintenance by MAS.

“By Aug 1, total fleet management of these aircraft, including maintenance, record-keeping, recovery service, planning of maintenance and the logistics of spare parts will be carried out by MAS,” he said.

Asked if the Government had decided who should pay for the cost of repairs, Chan said this question would be settled between all the stakeholders.

On the Asean Open Skies policy, Chan said the Government would stick to the aviation roadmap for the total liberation of flights between capital to capital by Jan 1, 2009.

“However, we are prepared to look into the limited flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. This is a bilateral issue, which needs to be discussed with Singapore.

“Other airlines, particularly low-cost carriers in Singapore, are also looking into the possibility of flying into Kuala Lumpur and other parts,” he said, adding that this was not a straightforward issue.

Source : STAR
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