KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — The Ministry of Transport (MOT) will continue providing subsidies to allow people in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak to continue to enjoy the rural air service (RAS), the Dewan Negara sitting was told today.
Its minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the federal government has allocated RM209 million in subsidies annually to cover the operating costs and aircraft leasing for the service.
He said once the negotiations for the takeover of MASWings Sdn Bhd by Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd are completed, MOT would establish the Public Service Obligation (PSO) policy and the appropriate criteria needed.
“At the same time, MOT will continue to play a role in administering and managing RAS’s public service obligations,” he said in reply to Senator Abun Sui Anyit’s question about the federal government’s role after MASWings under Malaysia Aviation Group is taken over by Hornbill Skyways during the Question for Oral Answers session.
On October 27, Hornbill Skyways and the Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to expedite the share acquisition in MASWings Sdn Bhd for the management of RAS.
Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg said the MoU would pave the way for detailed discussions between both parties to ensure that the state acquires the majority stake in MASWings.
Meanwhile, Loke said MOT was looking into a mechanism to provide subsidies to ensure that the price of flight tickets from the peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak can be controlled or reduced for a few days prior to festive seasons.
He said that the issue was different with RAS since the subsidy was given for the operation of air services in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak, but no government subsidy was provided for the aviation sector from the peninsula to the two states because it is not subject to RAS.
“The ministry is very aware of the concerns raised about the high ticket prices during festive seasons, and we are looking into mechanisms such as providing a subsidy to reduce the airfare.
“The ministry also asked airlines to increase the number of flights at night as one of the initiatives to reduce the cost of flight tickets from the peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. — Bernama