December 14, 2009
Kota Kinabalu - Malaysia Airlines wholly-owned subsidiary MASwings, plans to launch international services next year to neighboring countries Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, Makassar via Balikpapan in Indonesia and Davao via Zamboanga in the Philippines.
The airline plans to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Davao via Zamboanga in the Philippines and Makassar via Balikpapan in Indonesia by the middle of next year, MASwings Managing Director Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani said.
MASwings intend to launch three times a week schedule to the Philippines and four times a week for Indonesia sometime in April next year using ATR 72-500 aircraft. A short hop to Bendar Seri Begawan will also be made during the day.
"This is in line with the government-backed BIMP-EAGA, Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia Philippines East Asean Growth Area initiative", says Tabrani. "There is unlikely to be any government subsidies for launching the new services and that the airline will have to ensure these services are economically viable. That is why we are considering a stop in Zamboanga and Balikpapan to increase our chances of success"Tabrani adds.
The airline expects to receive its 10th ATR 72-500 aircraft in April 2010 as part of its re-fleeting program which was started in 2007. It received its first ATR in 2008 and six others followed in 2009.
Presently MASwings has no further options for more ATR aircraft "but it is something we will look at in the future" particularly "if our expansion into the BIMP-EAGA is working for us".
MASwings started its operations on Oct 1, 2007 and offers more than 950 weekly flights serving 22 destinations in Sarawak and Sabah as well as Labuan. It currently has a fleet of three Fokker 50s, four Twin Otters and seven ATR72s. The ATR 72-500 aircraft has a sitting capacity of 68 people.