He said this is one of two conditions set by Sarawak, with the other being that MASwings must have zero liability.
In pointing out that the state’s move was not profit driven, he said the state wanted the airline to service regional routes.
“We will take over the shares of MASwings and our main objective here is not for profit. What is important is the service we provide,” he said.
He told reporters this after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Sarawak and federal governments for the acquisition of the Rural Air Service (RAS) here today.
Abang Johari pointed out that negotiations for the Sarawak government to take over MASwings is currently ongoing between Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) and Khazanah Nasional Berhad.
He also said that the goal of the takeover was to stabilise the airfares between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah.
Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari said Sarawak will explore the use of new aircraft equipped with modern technology to replace the existing ATR72 and Twin Otter aircrafts currently used by MASwings.
“We cannot be static. We’ve been using the Twin Otter since I was a little.
“I believe that we can switch to an aircraft that is equipped with new technology and this will be beneficial to our community,” he said.
In addition, he said Sarawak is also considering acquiring a larger helicopter as an option which will be used for connections to inland areas such as Bario and Ba Kelalan.
“With this facility, we won’t have to build an airport and it saves costs,” he said.
He added that he had mentioned this to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who had agreed in principle because it was one of the options of cost savings.
The MoU was signed between Sarawak Ministry of Transport permanent secretary Dato Alice Jawan Empaling and Federal Ministry of Transport secretary general Dato Jana Santhiran Muniayan.
Also present during the ceremony were Deputy Premiers Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, federal Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook, Sarawak Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin, and Sarawak Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil.