KUCHING (Nov 23): The Sarawak government is hoping to revive and enhance its air connectivity by engaging chartered flights from Sarawak to nearby countries such as Singapore, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said he has requested Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd, the state’s regional aircraft charter service operator, to look into the possibility of providing the chartered flights. “We can lease the aircraft and work together with tourism players on the number of passengers for the chartered flight,” he said at the ‘Sarawak 2021 Budget: Towards a High Income Society in 2030’ webinar organised by the Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) today. He said with the Covid-19 pandemic drastically affecting many industries particularly tourism, chartered flights could serve as one of the assets that could be taken advantage of to spur the state’s tourism sector.
“We have to try to take advantage of this asset and if it’s very cheap to operate, why don’t we try to have chartered flights between Sarawak and Singapore or other destinations. “This can be done with assistance or collaboration with the private sector such as tourism players because you know the number of people coming and that will solve our load factor. “Once we have the load factor, the operation cost can be covered and the rest is up to the (tourism) industry to bring in tourists to destinations in Sarawak that will boost economic activities including our restaurants and hotels,” he said.
However, he noted that the chartered flight proposal can only take flight when Covid-19 cases are no longer prevalent. “Once we get the Covid-19 vaccine, the government has decided that we are going to provide the vaccine to our people at no cost. “When stability comes in, we hope that with this sort of approach for the state’s tourism sector, we are able to recover fast in the services sector,” he said.