By Emma Victoria
SARAWAK is looking into providing charter flights, to bring in tourists from nearby countries once it is safe to travel again.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg said the state government has proposed the idea to Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd, a regional aircraft charter service operator, to bring in tourists from countries such as Singapore.
“The tourism industry is severely affected due to Covid-19 and many flights and routes have been cancelled. It is unsure if these flights would be available when borders reopen, hence, we are looking at providing charter flights,” he said.
“We can work with the industry players and to confirm the date (of flight or travel) and number of passengers – then, we can arrange a charter flight to fly to the destination and bring them into Sarawak,” he said.
He said this could immediately boost the tourism, food and beverage, hotel and other service industries.
Abang Johari was speaking in the ‘Sarawak 2021 Budget: Towards a High Income Society in 2030’ webinar organised by the Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) today.
“We are looking at the proposal but it can only be implemented once borders reopen – then we can identify the countries we want to be connected with,” he said.
Apart from that, he said Sarawak was planning to have its own airline company to connect to the world.
“We will be working with the private sector to set up an airline company, to connect with potential popular destinations, such as Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Australia, to bring in more foreign visitors into the state,” he said.
“It will not be 100% owned by the state government as we need the private sector to come in and manage it together,” he added.
Apart from that, he said the state was also planning to expand the Kuching International Airport, which was congested before the pandemic.
“Since we are expecting more flights and arrivals into the state after the pandemic, we definitely need a bigger airport in our state’s capital,” he said, adding the project had been deliberated by airport development specialists.