KUCHING, Oct 26 (Bernama) — The Sarawak state government does not have any plan to set up a new airline company, said Sarawak Housing and Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said the state government was only keen to purchase Maswings airline company shares in Khazanah Nasional.
“We (state government) are not stupid to want to set up a new airline company…what we plan is to buy Maswings share in Khazanah Nasional so that the state has shares in Maswings,” he told reporters after chairing the 2015 Hornbill Sarawak Tourism Award organising committee meeting here Monday.
He denied a report in a local newspaper yesterday which said the state government was not making a wise decision in planning to set up a new airline company.
Negotiations between the state government and Khazanah Nasional on the proposed share acquisition in Maswings was still ongoing, he said, adding that he hoped the outcome would be positive.
Abang Johari said with a stake in the airline, the Sarawak state government would have a say in the company’s policy-making, especially related to the international flight routes connecting the state.
“What happens now is that any airlines can make the decision to stop direct flights from Kuching to international routes without giving prior notice to us (state government).
Meanwhile Abang Johari said Sarawak was confident of achieving its targeted five million tourists to the state this year even though it was still affected by the haze.
From January until August this year 3.1 million tourists visited Sarawak, with the majority from ASEAN countries, especially Brunei and Indonesia, he said.
Abang Johari also thanked the federal government for exempting the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the rural sector flights in the 2016 Budget.