Newly formed MASWings takes to the east Malaysian skies today.
It has taken over the rural air service sector in Sabah and Sarawak from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX).
The subsidiary of national carrier Malaysia Airlines starts operations promising to revitalise air transportation in the two vast states.
There are more than a million rural folks in Sarawak and Sabah still living in isolated settlements where air service is the only means of swift transportation to towns and cities.
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is scheduled to launch the inaugural MASWings flight from the Mulu National Park, some 250km inland from here, this morning.
MASWings managing director Dr Amin Khan said the airline would operate about 200 weekly flights covering 29 destinations in Sarawak and Sabah, using 19-seater Twin Otter and 50-seater Fokker aircraft.
He said the airline plans to also fly new routes not previously served by FAX, such as between Miri and Kota Kinabalu.
He said the two destinations, which house two world heritage sites in Malaysia, are popular among foreigners.
“Feedback from travel agents all over the world indicated a tremendous response from tourists in Japan, mainland Europe, Britain and the United States to the news that we will be taking over the flights to Mulu,” he told The Star.
“Mulu is a tourism jewel,” said Dr Amin, when interviewed here.
He added that there had been more than 6,000 online bookings for seats on MASWings since the takeover was announced.
Asked to comment on the development, Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said since the takeover by MASWings of the rural service was announced some two months ago, the momentum has picked up.
She said the board has received favourable response in many countries after it made more efforts to promote Sarawak following a series of flight connection woes in the past 12 months.
Source : STAR
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