KUCHING, Sept 13 — The Rural Air Services (RAS) rationalisation exercise might result in two additional Short Take-Off and Landing airports (STOLports) being set up in Sarawak, said Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) executive chairman Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim.
At the moment, the state has nine operating STOLports, one international airport in Kuching, and seven domestic airports.
Saripuddin told reporters this in a press conference after hosting a special media luncheon here yesterday.
When pressed for the exact locations of these two proposed STOLports, he said he could not provide the details yet because the matter was still being discussed between the federal Ministry of Transport (MoT) and the Sarawak government.
“The matter is not yet finalised, and is subject to the negotiations between the MoT and Sarawak government,” he said.
To another question about the development of the STOLport in Bukit Mabong, Saripuddin said the project had been put on hold as announced by the MoT.
On the latest development on the RAS routes, he said the twice-weekly Miri-Long Banga flight had been added to the current network, effective March this year.
For the record, Mavcom has stated that the rationalisation exercise is meant to ensure the optimisation of RAS routes and improved the load factor, towards a more efficient and effective RAS programme moving forward.
The current five-year RAS commercial agreement between the government and MASwings would expire next year, and this should pave the way for another round of Mavcom’s rationalisation exercise, Saripuddin pointed out.
On a relevant subject, he said Mavcom was letting the market forces determine the airfares of various airlines.
“We know about the high airfares to and from Sabah and Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia. We do not regulate the airfares, but we let the market forces determine the prices,” he said.
However, he also said the government had came up with special initiatives to reduce the financial burden of deserving consumers in the form of Kaamatan and Gawai subsidies, and the ‘Flysiswa’ initiative meant for tertiary students studying at various institutions all over the country.
Adding on, Saripuddin said he had a ‘good feeling’ about the aviation industry, as the world’s economies are recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Also at the media luncheon were Mavcom chief operating officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin, its aviation development (AD) director Jaffar Derus Ahmad, AD senior manager Karen Leiking, customer and public affairs (CPA) director Pushpalatha Subramaniam, and CPA senior manager Zahin Mazlee. — Borneo Post Online