KUALA LUMPUR: The determination of the Rural Air Service (RAS) destinations and route in Sabah and Sarawak are based on the Public Service Obligations (PSO) criteria under Section 2 of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 (Act 771), said the Ministry of Transport (MOT).
Deputy Transport Minister Hasbi Habibollah said the act defines the PSO as the provision of a service to carry by air or the use of any aircraft to carry passengers, mail or cargo for rent or wages for a scheduled trip etween aerodromes that will not be made by airlines if the they are based solely on commercial interest.
“The rationalisation of the RAS network is based on the use and type of aircraft, taking into consideration the most optimum operational cost, as well as the need of the community that fulfil the PSO definition.
“The government has signed a new agreement with MASwings to continue providing RAS operations in Sabah and Sarawak for a period of six years from 2019 to 2024 which includes the results of rationalisation of this service in line with a review by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) in 2017.
“Based on the new agreement, MASwings needs to provide services for 40 routes compared to 49 routes previously in Sabah and Sarawak by using ATR-72 and Twin Otter Viking aircraft,” he said in response to a question from Datuk Zakaria Mohd. Edris @ Tubau (BERSATU-Libaran) at the Dewan Rakyat today.
Zakaria wanted to know about MASWings flights in Sabah which began from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, then from Lahad Datu to Sandakan, Sandakan to Tawau, and from Tawau back to Kota Kinabalu.
Hasbi said the arrangement of the RAS network was based on the use of aircraft and the type of aircraft, taking into account its operating costs at the most optimal rate and the needs of the locals that met the definition of the PSO.
However, he said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flights for this route had been reduced to three times a week (Monday, Thursday and Saturday) since Aug 1, 2020.