Malaysian airline cuts KK-Palawan service

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 July)— After barely a month of flying five times a week the Kota Kinabalu-Palawan route, MASwings Sdn. Bhd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airline, has reverted to thrice-a-week flights even as tourist traffic has started to pick up, officials said.

Doreen Padilla, of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines – Puerto Princesa City, Palawan office, said late Wednesday afternoon that they received a notification from MASwings temporarily suspending two flights effective June 30.

“The airline advised us they will temporarily suspend their Monday and Thursday flights as there are some requirements they need to comply,” she said in a phone interview.

Padilla did not elaborate about the requirements.

MASwings announced in its website earlier that effective June 2, it would service the two BIMP-EAGA route five times a week, during Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The airline company, whose local representatives could not be located for comment on the latest development, plies the route using the 64-seater ATR72-500 aircraft.

In increasing their flights to five times a week, MASwings chief commercial officer Shauqi Ahmad said in an earlier statement: “MASwings is pleased to be able to meet the great demand on the route Kota Kinabalu – Puerto Princesa. With its eco-tourism attractions such as the magnificent Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park just 50 km north of the city, Puerto Princesa is quickly making its mark on the list of must-go destinations.”

Earlier, Romeo Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority director for investment promotions and public affairs, said that MASwings added more flights to the two routes due to the increasing interest on the tourism attractions of the two areas.

“This a positive development in our efforts to further strengthen air connectivity between Palawan and Kota Kinabalu to lure more people to visit tourism sites in the BIMP-EAGA,” he said.

BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei Darrusalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area, a key strategy launched in 1994 to accelerate the social and economic development of less developed areas in participating countries.

Palawan and Mindanao are the two focus areas of the Philippines under the BIMP-EAGA.

MaSwings began servicing the Kota Kinabalu-Puerto Princesa, Palawan air route last November thrice a week.

Montenegro credited the promotional tagline “From the heights of Mt. Kinabalu to the depths of the Underground River in Palawan” to the increasing air traffic between the two routes, mostly involving tourists from both sides.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists the Kinabalu Park and the Underground River in Palawan, or the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, as world heritage sites. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)