PETALING JAYA: Sabah Air Aviation Sdn Bhd (SAASB) aims to develop a robust business plan before launching its airline operations after taking into account the lessons learnt from the recent suspension of MYAirline’s operations.
SAASB chairman Kenny Chua said the company was paying close attention to the current economic situation and foreign currency exchange issues that had affected the operations of several companies in the past.
While emphasising the need for a well-thought-out business plan, Chua said he could not provide a timeframe to establish Sabah’s own airline, which was previously expected to take off by next year.
“Perhaps it will be five years from now, or we don’t even know (when)… That is why it’s a long-term plan,” he told FMT.
“What happened to MYAirline was due to financial difficulties. That’s why we need a well-thought-out business plan.”
In August, Chua said Sabah’s own airline was expected to take off by next year. He said he expected to sign agreements to lease at least three aircraft by the end of this year.
The new airline will follow a low-cost business model to compete with existing operators. The highly profitable Kuala Lumpur-Kota Kinabalu route is currently served by Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and AirAsia.
Last week, FMT reported that economists had urged the Sabah and Sarawak governments to consider the financial feasibility of owning their own airlines in order to avoid a repeat of the fiasco surrounding MYAirline’s sudden decision to suspend its operations.
On Oct 12, the low-cost carrier said it reached the “extremely painful decision” to suspend operations immediately because of “significant financial pressures”, adding that it was also unable to commit to any timeframe as to when it could resume operations.
After news of the suspension broke, transport minister Loke Siew Fook criticised the budget airline for its hasty decision affecting over 125,000 MYAirline passengers who had already purchased more than RM20 million worth of tickets until March 2024.