WITNESSED..... The exchange of MoU documents between Managing Director of Popular Express Travel, Dewi Chen (forth left) and Managing Director of Anthony Tours, Anthony Lim (second right), witnessed by MASwings Chief Commercial Officer Shauqi Ahmad (third left) and Managing Director of MASwings Datuk Capt. Mohd Nawawi Awang (fifth left).
By : FIZAH YUSOF
THE SIGNING of a Memorandum of Understanding between Popular Express Travel of Sabah and Anthony Tours of Brunei at the Pacific Sutera Harbour on Friday marked another achievement for MASwings. Managing Director of MASwings Datuk Capt. Mohd Nawawi Awang said the development would enhance Kota Kinabalu and Brunei's position as tourist destinations from neighbouring countries.
“We are building up more passenger load and I believe this is within our reach following the introduction of new BIMP-EAGA routes," he said.
Mohd Nawawi said MASwing was confident in meeting the 1.5 million passengers target for 2012, having reached 1.46 million passengers in the middle of this year.
He also revealed that the flights to new BIMP-EAGA destinations, that is, from Kota Kinabalu to Balikpapan and Kuching to Balikpapan are expected to commence by 18 Jan 2013.
"We are now waiting for approval from the Transport Ministry of Malaysia and likewise from Indonesia. We expect positive response from both governments and hopefully will commence operation by 18 Jan next year, flying between these destinations three times a week," he said.
Managing Director of Anthony Tours from Brunei, Anthony Lim said he was very optimistic on the potential outcome of this memorandum of understanding and hoped it would bring further growth in tourists’ within Borneo.
“With the support of MASwings and working with Popular Express Tours in Sabah, we hope to proactively leverage the plan to increase the number of visitors to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to connect people in Borneo,” he said.
In another development, Mohd Nawawi said MASwings also has plan to introduce thrice weekly flights from Kota Kinabalu to Puerto Princesa in Palawan, the Philippines, in March next year.
"That is our second phase of BIMP-EAGA expansion programme. In the third phase, we are looking at cities that range within two-hour flight like Ujung Pandang in South Sulawesi, Manado in North Sulawesi and Davao in the Philippines, probably under chartered flights' arrangement," he said.
The first phase started in February this year with flights from Kota Kinabalu - Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuching - Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuching - Pontianak and Tawau -Tarakan air routes. BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a sub-regional economic cooperation initiative in Southeast Asia.
During the press conference, Mohd Nawawi were asked whether MASwings had any plan to increase its aircraft to cater for the increasing demand for both domestic and within BIMP-EAGA region, he said MASwings is working on adding six new aircraft of ATR 72-500 or ATR 72-600 for the purpose.
"If everything goes well, we hope four of the six new aircraft will be ready for operation by March next year," he said. (Insight Sabah)