Key Points:

  • Scoot, Singapore's low-cost airline, plans to increase flights between Sarawak and Singapore, with new routes anticipated after acquiring additional aircraft in 2024.

  • AirAsia's suspension of Singapore-Miri and Singapore-Sibu routes in February 2024 has prompted discussions with the Transport Minister, who urges reconsideration.

  • Sarawak currently enjoys 40 international flights weekly, primarily from Singapore, with ongoing discussions to improve regional and international air connectivity.

Expansion Plans for Sarawak-Singapore Air Connectivity

KUALA LUMPUR — Scoot, a budget airline based in Singapore, is preparing to enhance its flight services between Sarawak and Singapore. This development follows discussions between Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin, Sarawak's Transport Minister, and Singapore Airlines Group, the parent company of Scoot. During a press conference post his speech at the State Legislative Assembly, Lee announced that Scoot has agreed in principle to commence flights to Sibu from Singapore, subject to the delivery of their new aircraft in 2024.

Lee also addressed the recent decision by AirAsia to suspend flights from Singapore to Miri and Sibu starting February 2024. He has engaged in discussions with AirAsia's management, encouraging them to reconsider their decision or, at the least, adjust flight frequencies to sustain operational viability. The outcome of these talks is still pending.

Sarawak's Current International Flight Connectivity

As of November 2023, Sarawak is well-connected internationally with 40 weekly flights, predominantly from Singapore. Lee highlighted in his ministerial speech that Kuching International Airport, Miri Airport, and Sibu Airport receive varying numbers of international flights per week. Airlines operating these routes include AirAsia Berhad, AirAsia Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines Berhad, Scoot Tiger Airways, and Royal Brunei Airlines. MyAirline previously operated on these routes but ceased its operations recently.

Lee expressed disappointment with MyAirline's abrupt suspension of services, which impacted approximately 24,260 passengers with pre-booked tickets until March 2024. He criticized the airline for not providing adequate notice but commended the Malaysian Aviation Commission and other airlines for assisting affected passengers.
Domestic and International Movements at Sarawak Airports

From January to the third quarter of the current year, Sarawak's airports and STOLports witnessed 97,129 aircraft movements carrying 7.8 million passengers. The flights, primarily from major cities in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, transported 41,890 tonnes of diverse cargo. Lee noted the range of goods, including electronic items, e-commerce products, and perishable goods.

With the suspension of MyAirlines, the average weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur and other Malaysian cities to Sarawak are around 372. Additionally, Sarawak's internal connectivity is robust, with 624 weekly flights linking major cities and rural areas. Miri Airport leads in the number of weekly flights, followed by Kuching International Airport and others.