Monday, August 10, 2009

Transport Ministry To Look Into Kk-sibu Flight Issue

09 August 2009

KOTA KINABALU -- Following requests for consideration from various parties, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has assured that the ministry would look into the issue involving scrapping AirAsia's Kota Kinabalu-Sibu route.

He said two groups -- Foo Chow Association here and Chinese Chamber of Commerce from Sibu -- had personally met him on the matter.

Ong said he had promised the groups that he would come up with an announcement soon.

"I told them that it involved an agreement between the government and MASwings and that it came into being before I took over the (transport minister) portfolio.

"So, I have to look into the delicate points contained in the agreement because that might involve perhaps, not just one sector, but we must always bear in mind, 'people first'.

"The people's voices must be given due consideration," said Ong, who is also MCA president, after opening the MCA state convention here Sunday.

He was asked to comment on AirAsia's appeal to retain its KK- Sibu flights, following a directive from the government for the low-cost carrier to stop flying the route from Oct 25, this year.

AirAsia began its daily KK-Sibu flights only in April, this year.

On Thursday, its chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, was reported as saying the decision was because MASwings had exclusive rights to service rural air routes, and so they were appealing to the government to open up rural routes to commercial airlines.

Asked whether Fernandes had spoken to him on the matter, Ong replied:

"I have received his letter, but what is more important is that we don't just look at the business interest of industry players and the operators, but also the woes of the public, and also the legality of any existing agreement signed between the government and specific industry player."

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