KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — The government has spent almost RM900 million on rural air services (RAS) since 2007 until now, to assist the people in Sabah and Sarawak use air transport to every town and area in both states.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said RAS could strengthen national integration, besides boosting connectivity between the peninsula and the two states in Borneo.
“AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) had increased flights and their frequencies from October, whereby AirAsia increased its Kuala Lumpur-Sibu flight frequencies from 35 to 41 per week.” He said this in reply to a question from Datuk Juslie Ajirol (BN-Libaran) on follow-up efforts to boost the land transport sector and air terminals, particularly the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), which had contributed a lot to strengthening national integration.
Abdul Aziz said for KKIA, the government had upgraded its Terminal 1 at a cost of RM1.7 billion to raise its handling capacity up to nine million passengers a year.
“This capacity is expected to meet the operational needs until 2020,” he said, adding that 70 per cent of the RAS users were domestic passengers at KKIA flying between towns and to the rural areas,” he said.
On the suggestion by Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh (BN-Putatan) to change the RAS name to Regional Air System, Abdul Aziz said the government had no intention to do so as it wanted to enhance national integration through community air services in Sabah and Sarawak.
“RAS has made it easier for the local people in Sabah and Sarawak to move about and if we change the name to ‘regional’, it will only benefit the foreigners,” he said. — Bernama