KUCHING, Nov 30 — Plans are underway for Sarawak to establish its own boutique airline, says Chief Minister Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg.
He said this airline, which will be available for business and leisure travel, will be parked under Hornbill Skyways, the established regional charter air service in the state.
“If we are given the mandate this state election, we will establish our very own boutique airline which will have planes for lease to transport cargo as well as tourists
“God willing that through this airline, we will be able to penetrate to hubs that are important for tourism such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok and Hong Kong,” he said when officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony for Bebuling short take-off and landing airport (STOLport) in Spaoh, Betong.
He was also quick to point out that the state’s plans to set up its own airline was not an “omong-omong kosong” (empty promise).
“I have calculated the cost and found a way to ensure that this will not be a financial burden. I have the model under Hornbill Skyways.
“So after December 18 (polling day of state election), if the people continue to support Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), then God willing, we will implement this,” he said.
Later at a press conference, Abang Johari said Hornbill Skyways currently runs a chartered service and with the availability of this boutique airline, this would allow the company to become more commercial.
“This boutique airline will focus on a strategic hub that will bring in tourists as well as our people.
“We need small-scale flights carrying between 100 and 120 passengers. This will provide another option for tourists who do not have to rely on other airlines,” he said.
He also touched on other airports in Sarawak where he pointed out that the state government’s plan was to establish an airport not only in Sapoh but also in Kapit and Lawas with the aim of boosting the people’s economy.
On the RM108 million Bebuling STOLport, he said this was one of the strategic projects to provide access to markets for the ongoing development in Betong and its surrounding areas.
“This area has two very important economic activities. One of them is agriculture as this area is a ‘Food Basket’ and food production centre.
“The other involves tourism, as this area is near Batang Ai and therefore will assist to develop the economy of the locals,” he said.
Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Betong MP Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat, Layar incumbent Dato Gerald Rentap Jabu, and Beting Maro incumbent Razali Gapor. — Borneo Post Online