KOTA KINABALU – Sandakan and Tawau as well as Mulu in Sarawak are set to enjoy increased air connectivity within the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region.
Malaysia currently has four cities with BIMP-EAGA air links – Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Kuching and Miri, but with the signing of an agreement in Manila next month, this will be increased to seven.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the Protocol to Amend the MOU on Expansion of Air Linkages would be inked at the 22nd Asean Transport Ministers Meeting in Manila in November.
He said the protocol aimed to provide more flexible approaches to sustain air services on existing routes and encourages the opening of new routes within BIMP-EAGA, which covers Brunei, Kalimantan, Sabah, Sarawak and southern Philippines.
“Every year, when we meet for BIMP-EAGA meetings, we would like to increase the number of townships that we’re going to fly to. In Asean, we practise an open sky policy but we only fly to certain destinations within Asean countries.
“Through BIMP-EAGA, we are opening up to all the small cities within this region and this is something very crucial,” he told a press conference after attending the 11th BIMP-EAGA Transport Ministers Meeting in Kuching Wednesday.
The protocol was one of several points Liow highlighted in a joint statement by the BIMP-EAGA transport ministers following their meeting.
Also present were Brunei’s Communications Minister Datuk Awang Mustappa Sirat, Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry secretary-general Sugihardjo and the Philippines’ Transportation Department undersecretary Felipe A. Judan.