Posted on 21 Apr 2023
Source of News: The Borneo Post

KUCHING (April 21): A Sarawak airline may not be sustainable and will face feasibility issues from an economic aspect that will ultimately impact the state’s economy, opined Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen.

The Bandar Kuching MP said he is not convinced by the move, especially in relation to improving transportation policy and stabilising airfares for Sarawak.

He said although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had agreed in principle with the proposal, it would be good for Sarawakians to be fully informed about the planned implementation of the project.

“Transportation is one of the most difficult sectors, requiring organisational structure management procedures based on law, passenger safety policies, and other matters closely related to aviation legislation.

“I have said it from the beginning, that I am supportive of what is good for Sarawak, especially to find ways to improve connectivity and stabilise tickets prices into Sarawak, but have strong reservations that setting up a boutique airline is the best way to achieve that as it may not be sustainable and economically feasible and will come at a huge economic cost to Sarawak,” he said in a statement.

Yii said a boutique airline not only demands initial high public funds, but sustaining the business model and maintaining the assets may not see economies of scale for the long term.

“We do not want that kind of operation where Sarawak has to save and use public funds to continue the survival of an airline that will not be able to survive in the future,” he explained.

He suggested cooperating with national and private companies to improve the communication network, especially Sarawak’s domestic route.

According to him, providing incentives or subsidies would be a more sustainable policy than constructing a whole new aviation system and expertise that may not be beneficial in the long term.

“In principle, the government should not be involved in a business. Their role is to provide a conducive environment and ecosystem for the development of business or propose an incentive policy for the private sector so that they will have a good and sustainable business plan for the people.

“In conclusion, the Sarawak government has to be transparent. Proper planning must be explained in detail including for the short- and long-term plans, so that the people can evaluate how far the plans can benefit the people and will not jeopardise Sarawak’s economic safety,” he said.

When speaking at the opening of Raia Hotel and Convention Centre here recently, Anwar had confirmed that he agreed in principle and supported Sarawak’s wish to have its own airline.

The Borneo Post