Wednesday, 30 November 2011

JPO to open doors on Friday

First of its kind: The JPO in Johor Baru will feature more than 80 designer and branded stores.

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Premium Outlets is set to open its doors on Friday. The upscale outlet will feature more than 80 designer and branded stores offering factory prices with daily discounts of between 25% and 65%. A special sneak preview has been organised for invited guests, including government agency personnel, tomorrow.

State Tourism and Domestic Trade committee
chairman Hoo Seong Chang said the opening of the JPO was timely with the current school holidays in Malaysia and Singapore. “We expect many Singaporeans to do their Christmas shopping at the JPO,” he said.

Hoo added that those coming from Singapore via the Second Link could reach the JPO within an hour. The JPO is expected to be officially launched by
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during his official visit to the state on Dec 11. It is learnt that security at the JPO is tight with several checkpoints and armed guards.

The JPO is a 50-50 joint venture between
Genting Group’s 54.6% owned subsidiary Genting Plantations Bhd and Premium Outlets, a division of US-based Simon Property Group. The RM149mil outlet, with a built-up area of 30,658 sq m (330,000 sq ft) on a 17.8ha site, is the first of its kind in South-East Asia.

There are 52 outlets in the United States, Mexico, Japan and South Korea. JPO offers a wide selection of off-season branded items such as designer fashion, sportswear, children’s wear, jewellery and shoes. Among the designer brands at JPO are Adidas, Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Canali, Coach, Esprit, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gap, Guess, Michael Kors and
Nike. To attract Singaporeans to the JPO, a special bus will ply on the Johor Baru-Kulaijaya-Resorts World Sentosa routes via the Second Link Crossing.
-thestar online.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

KLIA2 to cost RM3.9b now, to open in 2013

SEPANG (Nov 29, 2011): The new permanent low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang (KLIA2) will now cost between RM3.6 billion to RM3.9 billion – almost double the original estimate of RM2 billion – and the completion date is now in April 2013, instead of October 2012, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) said today.

The additional cost and delay in completion date are due to several changes to KLIA2 and the betterment of KLIA. The changes include a longer runway and bigger floorspace.

MAHB managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid said the terminal building is bigger with gross floor area (GFA) increased from 150,000 sq m to 257,000 sq m, catering to up to 45 million passengers per year, instead of up to 30 million as in the original plan.

He said the revision in capacity was due to expected growth in passengers as the original capacity of 30 million passengers was based on passenger numbers handled by the airport in 2009. "We believe passengers will grow, especially for low cost carriers. Our conservative forecast is by 2017, we will have 30 million passengers," he said.

Bashir said aircraft stands have also increased from 50 semi contact stands to 68 gates and eight remote stands (with 80 aerobridges), increasing the area for aircraft stands to 803,709 sq m from 500,000 sq m. Earthworks increased 130.7% from an area of 4.85 million sq m to 11.19 million sq m.

He said there will also be a third runway to cater to future growth. The third runway will now comply with Code E with a length of 3.96km instead of Code C with a 2.5km runway in the original plan. Bashir said with the increase in facilities and size of the project, public infrastructure works have also been increased with a longer road. There will be a 15km road with 5.4km elevated road compared with the original 8km with 1.5km elevated road.

In addition, there will be an air traffic control tower which is bigger than the apron control tower in the original plan while cost of fully automated baggage handling system increased by an additional RM100 million.

"We had a masterplan with a simple design (original deadline September 2011) but with requests such as airlines wanting more aircraft stands and government want segregation (of international and domestic passengers, as well as arrivals and departures), we asked for a design competition. "Secondly, the government mandate was to have all open tender which meant more applications," said Bashir.

He said these factors caused the delay of the project as the competition and open tenders took longer. KLIA2 is currently 42% completed and is ahead of schedule by 70 days.

AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes had recently questioned MAHB's move to build a 3.96km third runway at KLIA2, the delay in its completion as well as the escalating cost of building KLIA2.

Bashir said since the project commencement, the authorities and (MAHB's) board have been kept informed of the changes and progress. He said the terminal delay is justified as it is not building a low-cost terminal, but rather a terminal for low-cost carriers. "Whatever cost we incur will be based on scope of work that we have to do. It is not considered cost overrun but additional costs," he said.

He also said that airport tax is not related to costs of the terminal as the charges are heavily regulated. "When we upgrade the terminal, we do not increase passenger service charges (PSC) ... Whatever PSC is charged at current LCCT will be charged at this terminal (KLIA2)," he added.


Monday, 28 November 2011

Formula Drift Malaysia making a comeback for third year at Dataran Merdeka

Fast cars, screeching tyres and billowing smoke return to Kuala Lumpur as the adrenaline-pumping action of the Achilles Formula Drift Malaysia 2011 returns on Dec 17 and 18.

Following a successful event last year, ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) and title sponsor Achilles Radial have announced the return of the third edition to Dataran Merdeka. This year, spectators can look forward to catching some 40 professional drivers from across the Asia-Pacific pushing their rear-wheel-drive cars to the limit with impeccable precision and vehicle control.

This year’s edition will see the return of defending champion Daigo Saito of Spark Achilles Motorsports, who has stamped his authority on the series, having won the Singapore and Indonesian legs earlier in convincing fashion.

Fast and furious: Last year’s Formula Drift in Dataran Merdeka was a huge success.

Daigo will be facing stiff competition from his fellow countryman and race legend Orido Manubu in his iconic RSR Toyota Supra.

This will be Orido’s debut in the Formula Drift Asia series and fans can expect no less than some world-class drifting skills on display by this legend. Other top drivers from the region include Thai stars Kiki Sak Nana and Saranon, in addition to Australian champion Josh Boetchher, who will make his maiden appearance in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s top drivers will be looking to capitalise on the local partisan support and their home-ground advantage as they eye for podium finishes at the championship in front of their fans in Kuala Lumpur. Local crowd favourites such as Ivan Lau, Tan Tat Wei, Ariff Johanis and Ee Yoong Chern will be sure to give the international drivers a run for their money.

“With support from Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Dataran Merdeka has been the perfect host for our hugely successful event last year and we expect a bigger response in this upcoming edition,” said ESPN STAR sports event management vice-president Harvey Davis.

The Malaysian edition of the Formula Drift has become a highlight on the sporting calendar, attracting regional interest and talent, as well as world-class drivers hailing from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.

Fans in Malaysia can expect a thrilling experience as top-class drivers burn up the course two-at-a-time, often only inches apart, featuring aggressive side-by-side action, nail-biting power slides and spectacular drifting along a series of tight corners as powerful engines roar and tires bellow smoke. The Achilles Formula Drift Malaysia 2011 is the third leg of the Achilles Asian Drift Series 2011, which covers Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Tickets are now available from Ticket Pro ( or hotline 03-7880 7999). Walkabout tickets cost RM28 and grandstand tickets go for RM128. For details, log on to

-thestar online.

Genting venture bears fruit, plans to expand further

GENTING Malaysia Bhd's foray into casino resorts overseas via its maiden venture into the United States late last year is finally bearing fruit amid uncertainties in the Western economies.

The gaming company had expanded into the United States with its video lottery facility at the Aqueduct Racetrack in New York in September 2010. Media reports indicated the appetite for gambling had not abated but instead increased despite the economic woes, and the opening of the Aqueduct Racetrack, also known as the Resorts World New York (RWNY), had attracted more patrons than expected.

Genting has said plans are in the pipeline to double the space with additional floors of gaming facilities, events and new upscale dining offerings by the end of this year. Indeed, what is to be noted is that Genting's latest financial results for the period ended Sept 30 did not include the performance of its US operations as RWNY was only opened at the end of last month.

Genting's net profit for its third-quarter ended Sept 30 rose 3% to RM347.15mil from RM336.42mil a year earlier on the back of a 93% increase in revenue to RM2.32bil. The company pointed out that its revenue would have only increased 45% if not for the construction cost of the RWNY which amounted to RM566.9mil.

The company was cautious about its prospects moving forward due to slower global growth brought on by weakening macroeconomic fundamentals. However, shareholders could expect an upside surprise on the group's results should the RWNY churn out profit sooner than expected like its United Kingdom operations which recorded an operating profit of RM30mil in the third quarter compared with loss in its previous financial quarter.

In the United Kingdom, Genting, which had purchased casino holdings from sister company Genting Singapore plc, is continuing its expansion spree with the acquisition of Fox Poker Club Ltd for RM38.35mil. However, most brokerages, including ECM Libra, have not factored in these potential earnings contribution from RWNY and Fox Poker Club into their estimates as they are awaiting further earnings guidance from the Genting management.

Maybank Kim Eng analyst Yin Shao Yang said in a report last week the acquisition of Fox Poker Club was not expected to contribute to Genting's earnings. Yin had maintained a hold call on the stock with a target price of RM3.88.

The market did not expect the Fox Poker Club acquisition would contribute much to its bottom line due to the small size of the acquisition but was looking forward to another corporate event which could spark a re-rating for the stock. The company is still awaiting approval for its Las Vegas-style resort in Miami.

Earnings from the expansion into Miami, if approved by the US government, would still take time to materialise.

The experience from developing RWNY has shown it took slightly more than a year for it to be operational and earnings could take a longer time to come.

For all the talk about its overseas ventures, it is still noteworthy that the company derives about 90% of its earnings from Malaysia. The company has noted that its Malaysian operations had thrived despite regional competition. Time will tell whether Genting's expansion of its income base into the West, where economic growth is expected to remain subdued, would begin to see the expected returns.

Shareholders would definitely be delighted as this diversifying of income and revenue streams would help strengthen and solidify the company's branding, not only locally but also in the West where Genting is beginning to turn economic crises into opportunities.

-thestar online.

Long-haul budget airlines here to stay: AirAsia X chief

SEPANG (Nov 27, 2011): It has been nearly four years since AirAsia X Sdn Bhd launched its first international destination — the Gold Coast, Australia — but CEO Azran Osman-Rani said many remain skeptical about the viability of the long-haul, low-cost business model.

"Many people, by this I mean investors who are already investing in other airline stocks, are still skeptical about the long-haul, low-cost model (because) they don't understand it. We probably have to wait until our initial public offering (IPO) (to convince them) as I am sure a lot of people would want to study our financial numbers," he told SunBiz in an interview.

"As with all things, people who are skeptical and who wait, ultimately are the followers. If you want to lead and to blaze a new trail and be a pioneer, you don't wait until everybody agrees on something because by then, the leaders and the pioneers have already moved ahead. So, we will not let that stop or slow us down," said Azran.

"But our numbers will tell that we can indeed achieve a significantly lower unit cost; we can indeed fill up our planes; our seat load factors are higher than that of full-service airlines and we are still able to deliver a strong on-time performance. "For example, over 90% of our scheduled flights arrived on time between January and June this year compared with Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways' on-time performance of 84%."

The airline has also attracted investors in the likes of Virgin's Richard Branson who holds a 10% stake as well as Japanese leasing firm Orix Corp and Bahrain-based Manara Consortium, which have an 11% stake each. Under the recent Malaysia Airlines (MAS)-AirAsia share-swap deal, Khazanah Nasional Bhd is also expected to take up 10% of the shares in AirAsia X before its listing.

Additionally, the airline has managed to attract financiers for its aircraft despite not having a track record. "All of our bank financing, not a single one has been on the back of any (parent company) AirAsia guarantee. They have all been standalone financing," said Azran. "We have also not received any subsidy from AirAsia which is a public-listed company, and under Malaysian laws they cannot provide financial assistance to another company, especially a related-party company."

Still, news that Singapore Airlines (SIA) will start its new long-haul budget carrier called Scoot next year brings to the fore some of the concerns about the viability of the business model.

On the oncoming competition, Azran said: "The dynamics are going to be similar to how Tiger Airways first entered the short-haul low-cost carrier segment. People then were questioning whether AirAsia was going to survive. Fast forward five years, and AirAsia is even bigger and the market has grown. "The main thing for us is to ensure that we keep growing as well, and we obviously have an advantage in terms of size, experience, a much bigger network, brand new planes and our brand is more established."

He added that SIA's new subsidiary will not be in direct competition with AirAsia X as the former will be based in Singapore which means they are not going to be flying on the same city pairs. Amidst the roadblocks and brick walls, Azran has no plans of giving up.

"Even at the start of AirAsia X, we knew there was so much skepticism. I took this job because I knew the fun was going to be winning people over, sooner rather than later. We never expected to be given a red carpet treatment or to have things given to us," he said. "While we didn't expect that (more obstacles coming from within the local industry rather than international), it has made us stronger. The more difficult people try to make it for us, the more creative we become or more persistent."


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Cebu Pacific Air seeks to expand operations in Malaysia

KUCHING (Nov 27, 2011): Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air of the Philippines seeks to expand its international routes in Malaysia by making Kuching its next stop after Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) CEO Datuk Rashid Khan said today. He said STB would facilitate and assist the airline in offering its service in this capital city of Sarawak.

"We welcome you and hope to work together towards a win-win situation and, particularly, in promoting the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region," he said in a statement.

Rashid Khan said a delegation from Cebu Pacific Air, led by its International Sales and Distribution Systems Manager Leopoldo B. Coronel, and officers from the Philippine Tourism Department called on him yesterday and expressed their interest to expand the airline's operation to Kuching.

According to the Cebu Pacific Air website, the airline launched its international operations in November 2001 and now serves Bangkok, Busan, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Taipei. The airline has 27 Airbus (10 A319 and 17 A320) and eight ATR 72-500 aircraft, says the portal. -Bernama.

Belum Rainforest Resort

The Belum Rainforest Resort is one of Malaysia's premier ecotourism holiday destinations. Set in the midst of a tropical paradise, Pulau Banding, the Belum Rainforest Resort, is everything nature-lovers and holiday-goers expect in a getaway destination: complete relaxation and serenity, stunning views and surroundings, adventure, and the chance to get close to nature.

Nature’s Bounty at your Doorstep
With the Belum-Temengor Rainforest literally at their doorstep, guests at the resort will have a rare opportunity to experience the soothing beauty and mystery of the vast jungle, which has remained untouched for centuries. Nature lovers will revel at the chance to observe the beauty of plants and scenery that can be found only rarely elsewhere. Meanwhile, thrilling outdoor activities await adventure seekers who crave for adrenaline-pumping experiences.

Rooms at the Belum Rainforest Resort are designed to help you unwind and rejuvenate. Each of our rooms are designed with contemporary, nature-inspired d├ęcor and equipped with the most comfortable and modern facilities to make your stay an unforgettable one.

"Pelancongan Kini supported Visit Perak Year 2012"

Malaysian Girls @ KLPAC

The year’s most glamorous musical is set to explode on the KL stage. Product of an an award-winning team led by esteemed director Joe Hasham OAM along with producer and theatre doyenne Dato’ Faridah Merican, MALAYSIAN GIRLSwill premiere at klpac followed by a tour to Penang.

MALAYSIAN GIRLS lures you into the exciting world of a beauty pageant. The heady mix of glamour and talent is enticing in itself. Throw in the drama that unfolds when there is such a coveted title to be won and such differing notions of beauty together with Mark Beau de Silva’s humorous writing, you are in for an absolute treat.

The musical pits two camps against each other. On one side you have Serenity Billion – the person who started the Malaysian Girls pageant to seek and define a uniquely Malaysian ideal of beauty. On the other side you have the flashy Ray Sanjay and the go-getting Jasmin Hibiscus who have bigger and bolder ideas. Just how ugly can it get?

MALAYSIAN GIRLS is a show in every sense from its catchy songs and explosive dance moves to the glitzy costumes and high energy performance. The music is a bold fusion of iconic, chart-topping hits and equally captivating numbers composed by singer-songwriters specially for this production. Come and experience the glitzy world of a beauty pageant told in song, dance and drama on six-inch heels!

Bukit Merah Laketown Resort

Surrounded by lush greenery and fronting one of Malaysia's largest 7,000-acre freshwater lake, the resort is only a 3 hours' drive from Kuala Lumpur and easily reached just off the Bukit Merah toll exit along the North-South Expressway.

Being one of Malaysia's premier eco-tourism destination in the northern region, the resort offers a wide variety of excitement with its Waterpark being the main attraction, the only conservational Orang Utan Island in Peninsular Malaysia and the unique Eco Park with its educational walk-in enclosures, where you can experience nature by interacting with some friendly animals.

Bukit Merah Laketown Resort offers a variety of accommodation all at one location. From hotel rooms to serviced apartments, as well as the luxurious 'Kampung' chalets by the lake. For the more adventurous, you can even try out a camping holiday at the lakeside camping ground.

New Attractions:

Promotion & Event Highlights:

Checkout our sister companies website:

MK Land Holdings Berhad –
Langkawi Lagoon Resort –
Taiping Golf Resort –
Belum Rainforest Resort –
Orang Utan Island –

"Pelancongan Kini supported Visit Perak Year 2012"

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Kem pengakap bertaraf dunia

KUALA TERENGGANU 25 Nov. - Kerajaan negeri bersedia menaik taraf Kem Pengakap Telaga Batin yang kini dikenali sebagai Kem Pengakap Tengku Muhammad Ismail dengan pelbagai kemudahan bagi membolehkan ia digunakan untuk penganjuran bertaraf dunia.

Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said berkata, sejumlah RM10 juta diperuntukkan kerajaan negeri sebelum ini bagi membina kem berkenaan yang dilengkapi dengan kemudahan aktiviti pengakap dari semasa ke semasa. "Kem telah memiliki kemudahan lengkap dan terbaik dengan 65 bilik biasa dan 24 bilik tetamu kehormat serta mempunyai kawasan lapang untuk perkhemahan. Maka, tidak mustahil pengakap dari Jepun melahirkan keinginan untuk melakukan aktiviti perkhemahan mereka di sini tidak lama lagi.

"Dengan adanya kemudahan bertaraf dunia, saya berharap dan mengalu-alukan pengakap seluruh dunia untuk mengadakan perkhemahan mereka di kem ini sekali gus mempromosikan negara dan negeri Terengganu di mata dunia," katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian selepas merasmikan acara penutup Jambori Malaysia Ke-12 dan Jambori Pengakap Antarabangsa Terengganu di sini semalam. Turut hadir Ketua Pengakap Negara, Datuk Seri Dr. Shafie Mohd. Salleh; Ketua Pesuruhjaya Pengakap Malaysia, Datuk Khairuddin Mukmin dan Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Pelajaran, Pengajian Tinggi, Sains, Teknologi dan Sumber Manusia negeri, Ahmad Razif Abd. Rahman.

Jambori yang dirasmikan Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin menyaksikan 21 negara mengambil bahagian melibatkan 10,800 peserta antaranya dari Bangladesh, Maldives, New Zealand, Indonesia, Brunei, Mesir, Thailand, Filipina dan Myanmar.

Mengulas lanjut Ahmad berkata, bagi memudahkan penyelenggaraan kem dilaksanakan, kerajaan negeri bercadang menyerahkan kem itu kepada Majlis Pengakap Negeri Terengganu tidak lama lagi. Jelas Ahmad, penyerahan kem tersebut juga bagi memudahkan kemudahan-kemudahan lain disediakan di kem berkenaan.

"Mereka lebih tahu apa yang sepatutnya disediakan dalam sesebuah kem pengakap, jadi tanggungjawab untuk menguruskan kem ini kita beri kepada majlis dan saya berharap ia akan dimanfaatkan sepenuhnya dengan penganjuran pelbagai aktiviti," jelasnya.

Sementara itu, pada majlis makan malam sempena program berkenaan di Seri Iman kelmarin, kerajaan negeri menerima tajaan daripada syarikat pengedar kenderaan mewah BMW, Quil Automobiles Sdn. Bhd. yang menaja 60 kereta BMW serta wang tunai RM50,000 untuk jambori itu. Sebuah lagi syarikat iaitu Nexedge Technology Sdn. Bhd., pengedar rasmi perlatan telekomunikasi jenama Kenwood menyumbangkan peralatan Radio Telekomunikasi Kenwood bernilai RM50,000.

-Utusan Online.

Pesta Pantai hidupkan kembali Tanjung Bidara

MELAKA 25 Nov. - Pesta Pantai Tanjung Bidara akan diadakan semula pada 9 hingga 11 Disember ini selepas terhenti beberapa tahun lalu.

Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) Tanjung Bidara, Datuk Ab. Karim Sulaiman berkata, pesta itu dihidupkan semula bagi merancakkan kembali kedatangan pelancong ke Tanjung Bidara. Menurutnya, penganjuran Pesta Pantai Tanjung Bidara itu akan menjadi platform untuk memeriahkan lagi suasana di kawasan pelancongan itu supaya kembali menarik lebih ramai pengunjung.

“Tanjung Bidara mempunyai sebuah pantai yang indah dan menarik cukup sinonim sebagai lokasi perkelahan keluarga sejak dari dahulu lagi. “Cuma kita perlu adakan satu pesta untuk dijadikan sebagai acara tahunan pada setiap hujung tahun bagi menghidupkan kembali suasana keceriaan di sini,” katanya kepada pemberita di sini semalam.

Ab. Karim yang juga Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kerja Raya dan Kemudahan Awam negeri berkata, pesta anjuran bersama Malis Perbandaran Alor Gajah (MPAG) itu akan memperkenalkan kembali Tanjung Biara sebagai destinasi wajib dikunjungi. Menurutnya, pihaknya telah menyediakan lebih 15 acara sepanjang tiga hari pesta itu diadakan di pantai Tanjung Bidara dekat sini dari pukul 8 pagi hingga 10 malam.

Ujarnya, antara acara yang akan diadakan adalah pameran kerjaya Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM), pameran Pos Malaysia, pertandingan fotografi, sepak takraw terbuka Melaka, karaoke, Battle Of The Band, pertunjukan layang-layang dan Sprint Race 2011.

Selain itu katanya, Larian Pantai, pertandingan perahu layar, Mr. Muscle, pertandingan mewarna kanak-kanak dan konsert RTM. “Acara sukan pantai (turut diadakan) seperti pukul bantal, panjat tiang licin, tarik tali, tangkap itik, bola tampar, bola sepak, bola jaring dan baling buah limau,” katanya.

-Utusan Online.

Fernandes sees ‘fantastic year’ ahead for the low-cost carrier

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite poor financial results from the major local airlines, AirAsia Bhd group chief executive Tan Sri Tony Fernandesremains “very bullish” on the sector.

Fernandes believes that “2012 is going to be a fantastic year for AirAsia”. “I think for the joint collaboration with MAS, there’s always scepticism but I am very bullish. I think we are going to have a very strong airline sector and 2012 is going to be a great year for both airlines,” he said.

Fernandes : ‘2012 is going to be a great year for both AirAsia and MAS.’

He remained mum about what both airlines had up their sleeves but said he was happy with the quality of work done on both sides.

“It depends on how you view AirAsia - as a short term player or a long term player. People forget that we are 10 years old and we have had to fight so many battles in the first 10 (years). The next 10 (years) will be a lot easier,” he said.

AirAsia will hit its first decade in business on December 8.

“I’m optimistic, I have a smile on my face. Sure, we are not entirely happy with what happened at Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd but I am still very bullish on the industry,” he said, noting the recent hike in passenger service charge.

Earlier this week, AirAsia Bhd announced a net profit of RM152.3mil for its third quarter, compared with RM327.29mil in the same quarter last year while Malaysia Airlines (MAS) reported a net loss of RM477.6mil compared with RM233.23mil net profit last year.

“I think the results are fantastic. We have debts denominated in US dollar and every quarter, they re-state that debt and since the ringgit has weakened, the debt has grown,” he said. “The operating income has increased by 2%, yet Petronas has increased fuel by 40%,” he said, but added that the operational growth “shows the strength of the underlying business and robustness of the model”.

-thestar online.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sabah, Sarawak to be major shareholders of MasWings

PETALING JAYA (Nov 23, 2011): Sabah and Sarawak state governments will be the major shareholders of MasWings when the airline becomes a regional airline.

Aviation industry sources told theSun yesterday that the several prominent businessmen from both states have also agreed to buy stakes in the airline which was expected to be relaunched by the middle of next year. The sources however said that the both state governments will continue to hold a major share of the new airline to ensure that the service would not suffer to 'whims and fancies of the owners". The sources said negotiations were being conducted and were expected to be made public soon.

It was learnt that the plans for the new airline was put in motion after Malaysia Airlines took over the jet service of its subsidiary, Firefly, last month. The takeover meant Firefly no longer services Sabah and Sarawak, handing back the low fare sector to Air Asia.

Sources told theSun, the decision to end the Firefly service was taken poorly by the people in Sabah and Sarawak, prompting both state governments to lobby Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to acquire MasWings. It was learnt that negotiations were being carried to wet-lease at four narrow body jets so the airline could start servicing the Sabah/Sarawak to peninsula route soon. (The wet lease of an aircraft is an arrangement whereby the lessor provides at least some crew, maintenance and fuel.)

Initially it was planned that the airline was to make two daily flights from both Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur. Other routes for the airline may include KK to Tawau, Kuching to Bintulu/Miri and Kuching to KK. The airline may also lease turbo-props planes to add to the six ATR-72s turbo-props already operated by MASWings for flights in both states.

Meanwhile, in Kuching, Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg confirmed that the state may become the major shareholder of the airline. "At this moment, it is still too premature to say much, but definitely, we will have something in mind," he told reporters when launching the Sarawak Tourism Calender for 2012 at the Media Room of the State Legislative Assembly. He said with more shares, the State would have better say in the running of MasWings in its operations.

Abang Johari said if all goes according to plan, MasWings will start operating as a regional airline next year. "But first, it must acquire at least four jetliners before it can start operating at a regional airline," he said, adding that currently MASWings is operating a fleet of ATR turbo-prop aircraft.

"As a regional airline, MASWings will have to fly to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong. These are important hubs in the region," he added when asked to elaborate on his statement when winding up the debate in the State Legislative Assembly today.

On the Sarawak Tourism Calender, Abang Johari said that his ministry will organise a series of events next year as a prelude to the state's 50th anniversary in the formation of Malaysia. "We have declared the year 2013 as a special year to mark the 50th anniversary," he said. "Events and festivals will be our major attraction to entice immediate arrivals into the state," he added.