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MAS should not wait till CNY eve: Tan
Published on: Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kota Kinabalu: State Industrial Development Minister, Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, said Malaysia Airlines (MAS) should resume the cancelled Kuala Lumpur-Sandakan flights immediately instead of waiting till Feb 18 in view of the coming Chinese New Year."Not only should MAS resume those cancelled flights, the airline should have considered additional flights to cope with the larger number of family members who wish to return to Sandakan for the Chinese New Year family reunions.

"Being a national airline with such a long record of aviation capability, it should have been able to provide more seats for this route for this festive season. MAS should realise this and act accordingly," he said.

Tan said the big question is why should MAS wait for Feb 18 to reestablish these flights when they should be doing so right away.

He was commenting on the fom Prime Minister's Department on Monday that after a meeting between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and senior management officials of MAS, the 11 times weekly direct flights between Sandakan and the main terminal of KL International Airport (KLIA) are expected to be resumed on Feb 18.

"This development goes to show that the Barisan Nasional Government is a responsible government that has the people's interest at heart.

"I am especially happy to see and thankful that the Prime Minister himself has responded so quickly to the plight of the people of Sandakan.

He has personally taken the matter up with MAS directly and produced

positive result to correct a wrong action on the part of MAS," he said.

Tan said MAS made the wrong move to cancel the direct flights.

"Those direct air links from Sandakan, the second largest town in Sabah and the main commercial and industrial centre of the east coast of the state, are crucial to the tourism industry and other economic interest of the state.

"The people of Sandakan were rightly unhappy with the cancellation of the MAS direct flights. They had in fact expected those flights to be increased, instead of being cancelled," he said.

He said it has to be noted that Sabah had worked very hard for many years to bring about the opening up of those direct MAS links between Sandakan and the national capital of Kuala Lumpur and to have those flights cancelled so abruptly was indeed a big blow to the travelling public from Sandakan and other districts on the east coast.

"These direct air links by the national air carrier to KL are very important for Sandakan, because prior to that, travellers had no choice but to take flights via Kota Kinabalu, resulting in additional travel time and costs," he said.

Tan emphasised that there is sufficient capacity of travellers for these direct flights, especially considering the increasing number of visitors from Peninsula states and tourists from foreign countries.

"There are also many locals from Sandakan who travel for business and family purposes, having children who work or live in KL and other parts of the Peninsula. They had in fact been expecting additional MAS flights to cope with the increasing traffic.

Tan estimated that the Sabah tourism sector would stand to lose at least RM72 million a year, citing tourist arrivals from Australia alone, due to the suspension of MAS flights.

"I must say that this is something that is totally unacceptable to us.

We in Gerakan will not tolerate any moves by MAS that would bring about harmful effects to the economic interests of Sabah. We shall not fail to raise objections now and in the future," said Tan, who is also Parti Gerakan Vice President.

He hoped the meeting between Najib and MAS management officials would also result in the national airline reinstating other international flights such as the direct flights to Perth, Seoul and other international destinations.

"MAS should now review its previous decisions that are expected to work against the interest of Sabah's tourism industry, not forgetting that tourism and the services sector are important elements for the success of the national Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) mooted by our Prime Minister," he said.



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