The Malaysian government remains supportive of efforts to establish a Sarawak-based airline but says its promoters must submit a completed application to the Ministry of Transport (MOT) via the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM).
Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Hasbi Habibollah was responding to questions on the subject in parliament on June 12 and said an application lodged in early April was incomplete. The Sarawak provincial government, led by Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Tun Openg, is campaigning for the Malaysian government to approve and fund (via its sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah), which some Malaysian language outlets are saying will be named Boutique Airlines. However, this may also be a lost in translation reference to the style of carrier Abang Johari proposes. He has consistently said it would be a boutique airline.
"The MOT, via the Malaysian Aviation Commission, will examine and consider the proposal accordingly after a complete application has been submitted to the government for consideration," Hasbi Habibollah told the parliament. He said any new operator needed to secure an air services license (ASL) from MAVCOM, and then an air operator certificate (AOC) from the Malaysian Aviation Authority (CAAM). "In the process to obtain an ASL, MAVCOM will examine and consider, among others, the status and background of the applicant's financial plan, reasonableness of the business plan, ability and legitimacy of the management, and whether the entire operation application is realistic," he said.
The Sarawak government plans to use local state-owned charter operator Hornbill Skyways (Kuching) to operate the airline. However, aside from one business jet, that operator's fleet comprises turboprop and rotary wing aircraft, which is insufficient to satisfy Abang Johari's goal of flying to destinations such as Singapore Changi, Hong Kong International, and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi.
In April, around the time the incomplete application was filed, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim expressed his in-principle support for the airline, and said he would discuss the matter at the next cabinet meeting.