KOTA KINABALU – Passengers of regional community carrier, MASwings, can expect to fly in newly refurbished aircrafts before the end of the year.
Cabin refurbishment on all its ten ATR aircrafts, as part of the airline’s year of repair programme this year, is expected to be completed by November .
Its chief executive officer Aminuddin Zakaria said they are planning to unveil a mock-up of the interior revamp of the plane to the media in the middle of this month.
“After that we will wait to get the proposed cabin refurbishment approved which will not take long, and then it will take about a month for our entire ATR fleet to undergo and finish the process,” he said when contacted by New Straits Times.
The company is also expected to migrate its system to Amadeus Plus by middle of next year which can differentiate Malaysians and non-Malaysians, allowing only Malaysians benefit from its subsidised rates for rural air services (RAS) in East Malaysia.
Aminuddin earlier this year has said that while there are less than five percent of foreign tourists on their flights in average, the number is expected to grow and such segmentation between Malaysians and international tourists will ensure the latter pay based on commercial pricing.
“At present we have already migrated to the new reservation system using Amadeus in Phase 1 back in June, along with mother company Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
“For now we can only differentiate those who purchase from overseas through IBE (internet booking engine) system online, but we target we can differentiate internally from this country (meaning foreigners who bought tickets within Malaysia) too once we move to Amadeus Plus middle of next year,” he explained.
On State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun’s recent suggestion that MASwings need to have more aircrafts as relief options to lessen delays and cancellations due to technical problems, Aminuddin said the message was intended to Transport Ministry (MoT) to review the MASwings fleet.
“I believe MAS and MoT have been conducting meetings to revise the RAS agreement (which expires this year-end), whether some of the route frequencies needs to be increase or decrease based on current developments such as better road network, as it has not been reviewed for 10 years (since MASwings inception).
“They will likely to call us for feedback later but for me, the fleet improvement will be based whether Sabah and Sarawak continues to be our focus or if they plan to expand beyond the eastern States, which means they might consider other aircrafts besides ATRs to service regional international destinations,” he added.
At present, MASwings flies to Tarakan (Indonesia) via Tawau, which falls under the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) as commercial flight and not under the RAS.
Aminuddin said the route which was introduced in 2012 has good demand and was able to break even in terms of profits. – NST