The MAS-AirAsia collaboration has got tourism players in Sarawak worried.MIRI: The recent collaboration agreement between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia has created uncertainty among tourism players in Sarawak.
Following this, the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) plans to discuss issues regarding its effects with the two airlines soon.
Speaking to reporters during the breaking of fast with tour agents and the press here last night, STB chief executive officer Rashid Khan said tourism players in Sarawak were concerned as the airlines had also announced that they would rationalise their operations.
The rationalisation plan would raise the issues of flight frequency, airfare and the roles to be played by the airlines and its subsidiaries, he said.
“All these are issues that make us uncertain. We want to engage them (MAS and AirAsia) and we have already indicated that,” he said.
He described the MAS-AirAsia deal as “a worrying issue” as compared to the move by Malaysian Airports to increase the airport tax.
“Airport tax in Malaysia is relatively low and represents a small portion of the cost of fares,” he said.
MAS and AirAsia had on Aug 9 entered into the collaboration agreement to establish a framework to explore the possibilities of mutual co-operation.
To strengthen the collaboration and to further align their respective interests in AirAsia and MAS, Tune Air and Khazanah Nasional Bhd – the major shareholders of AirAsia and MAS respectively, have agreed to acquire from each other existing shares of both companies.
As a result, Tune Air will hold 20.5% equity interest in MAS and Khazanah 10.0% in AirAsia.
Meanwhile on STB’s latest initiatives, Rashid said plans were in place to bring in more tourists from the Middle-East to visit Sarawak this year.
He said the first half of 2011 saw a promising 47% growth in tourist arrivals from Arab countries.
Efforts would also be intensified to bring in more Australian tourists as well as tourists from New Zealand.
“We also want the tourism players in the state to be prepared to bring in more tourists from China,” he added.