KOTA KINABALU, May 10 (Bernama) -- MASwings'' announcement to fly to Puerto
Princesa, Palawan in the southern Philippines by the end of October this year
has been hailed by BIMP-EAGA Malaysia Business Council chairman Roselan Johar
Mohamed as heaven''s gift to the people of Sabah, particularly in Kudat.
He said with greater connectivity, more trade can be achieved between Kudat
in the northern part of Sabah and Palawan.
Roselan said the business council of BIMP-EAGA (Brunei
Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) is closely
monitoring the Kudat situation and some announcement will be in the offing.
"The much awaited trade mission from Palawan is coming in June to visit
Kudat," he told Bernama here today.
Yesterday, MASwings chief executive officer Datuk Captain Nawawi Awang
announced that MASwings, a fully-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, would
embark on its second phase of international route expansion by the end of
October this year.
Nawawi was quoted as saying that the new MASwings'' international air
service would cover the Kuching-Balikpapan (Indonesia) and Kota
Kinabalu-Puerto Princesa routes.
Roselan said further upgrading of the Customs Immigration Quarantine
Security (CIQS) station in Kudat is being discussed "even though the present
facility there is just enough for the moment."
On MASwings'' recent success after expanding their routes to Pontianak and
Tarakan, Indonesia early this year, he said the high load factor achieved had
compelled the airline to increase the original three Tawau-Tarakan flights a
week to one flight daily with effect from July 1 this year.
"This is very fast indeed and beyond our wildest imagination. This is a
classic success story and we hope many others will emulate MASwings.
"That is the beauty about BIMP-EAGA. The successive meetings we had
throughout and over the years are all designed to make travel easier and
cheaper. We are talking about 70 million people within the designated Bimp-Eaga
region," he added.
Roselan said travelling is very important because it provides high
visibility and "our visitors come, they see and ultimately they will buy."
"So money spent on travelling and other spending is very high and this keeps
our economy moving. Our airports have been most accommodating and Miri (Sarawak)
airport is currently being upgraded just for this purpose -- to welcome local,
national and international visitors.
"Likewise, the Sabah government is upgrading the Tawau seaport passenger
terminal and it is expected to be ready soon," he said.
Roselan said the government truly values the economic importance of visiting
neighbours and hopes this new upcoming facility will triple Tawau''s retailing
and merchandising business.
"At the same time, we have to warn the local traders never to maximise
profits. A small profit here and there will always welcome repeat customers-cum-
travellers, and trade will continue to prosper.
"Gone are the days when we used to shun the economic migrants. Now we
welcome all visitors and any well designed passenger terminal can easily filter
the genuine or legitimate travellers with ease and effciency," he said.