By Jerry Francis
Hardly two weeks after it was announced, the launching of the direct Ipoh-Singapore all-cargo flight was postponed “indefinitely” and, perhaps may even to be called off.
What a shame. Such a development which could bring some hope to the revival of the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport and would be welcomed by manufacturers and traders throughout Perak as of “great benefit” to them is now not likely to materialise.
The introduction of the direct cargo flight to Singapore would also be a step forward in the State Government’s efforts to make the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport a feeder airport.
Was the proposed launching on June 16 at the airport prematurely announced or were those involved labouring under a misconception and overlooked the conditions governing the approval by the Transport Ministry?
Why at this stage, when so much efforts have been made to the extent of getting an airline to participate, was it suddenly postponed and indefinitely at that.
According to a source, the Transport Ministry had issued the approval for the direct all-cargo flight, but the condition is that cargo can be brought in but no cargo can be flown out of Ipoh.
Under such a condition, the operator Asialink Cargo Express (ACE) may not find it viable to operate the all-cargo flight. The Indonesia-Singapore joint venture cargo airline operates its hub from Batam, Indonesia.
Certainly those in the aviation and freight sectors should have been aware of such a ruling that prohibits any other than MASKargo/MAS/Transmile/local carriers to carry goods/passengers out of the country.
Were all the requisites looked into before the approval from the Transport Ministry was sought and the announcement made?
Commenting on the news, a reader Norhisyam Yusuf said, “I believe the same situation goes for Penang at their Kompleks Kargo Kedua, where UPS, DHL and FedEx are prohibited to uplift cargo from Malaysia. This does not happen in any other country in the world (except Malaysia).”
He hopes that the Ministry of Transport could look into this matter and allow “equal” competition (or better, if there are no local carriers able to do it or interested in doing it) because most of the economies in the world compete equally and fairly (fair trade practices).
“Anyway, I laud the efforts made by MITI, MIDA and FMM. I hope more of these friendly, business-minded approaches will be introduced by them to increase Perak’s competitiveness in the Malaysian economy,” he said.
Another reader Izzy Delancy believes that having such services in Ipoh will benefit the exporters.
“It is better to be a spoke than a hub, since to be a hub, you have to be gazetted as an “international” airport that can cater at least to an Airbus A330 series aircraft. Nonetheless, this effort is sufficient enough for Perak to recover and “re-boost” its economy, and recover some of its past glory”, added Izzy.
Let us hope whatever problems confronting the introduction of the all-cargo flight could be resolved quickly. Especially when so many hopes were raised in certain segments of the business sector.
Meanwhile, the State Government will actively pursue the matter to make the “desired service” a reality. State chairman for Industry, Investment, Industrial Development and Tourism, Dato’ Hamidah Osman, said it was discussed at the recent state executive council meeting held in Kuala Lumpur.
“The government is still positive about the service and taking steps to identify the problem to ensure it becomes a reality,” she told our reporter James Gough after the meeting. “The air cargo is a necessity for the State. We want the service,” she added.