MASwings will cease operations of 8 domestic routes in Sabah and Sarawak, effective January 1.
The affected routes are:
Kuching - Sibu Kuching - Bintulu Kuching - Miri Kota Kinabalu - Miri Kota Kinabalu - Sibu Kota Kinabalu - Bintulu Kota Kinabalu - Sandakan Kota Kinabalu - Tawau
A statement from MASwings said the decision to withdraw these return services has been decided by the Government of Malaysia, represented by the Ministry of Transport (MoT), as part of the new Public Service Obligation (PSO) Agreement between MASwings and MoT.
These routes have been removed by the government from the new PSO Agreement as it no longer falls under the definition of PSO under the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) Act.
However, the decision will not disrupt air services into these destinations as there are other commercial airlines operating.
"All eight routes will be in service until 31 December 2018 (Monday). MASwings regrets any inconvenience caused.
"All affected passengers have been notified via email, SMS blast and calls; and given the option to change their travels to an earlier date, subject to seat availability, or to be fully refunded," it said, adding that customers may also contact Malaysia Airlines' 24-hour Call Centre at 1300 88 3000 (within Malaysia) and +6 03 7843 3000 (outside Malaysia) for further enquiries.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke had announced on Nov 21 that Air Asia Group Bhd was to take over the Kota Kinabalu - Sibu and Kota Kinabalu - Bintulu routes starting January 2019.
Air Asia is already flying the Kuching - Sibu; Kuching - Bintulu; Kuching - Miri, Kota Kinabalu - Miri; Kota Kinabalu - Sandakan; and Kota Kinabalu - Tawau routes currently.
The Kota Kinabalu - Sibu and Kota Kinabalu - Bintulu routes were among over 30 Rural Air Service (RAS) routes in Sabah and Sarawak managed by MASwings and subsidised by the government as they were deemed non-commercially viable.
According to Loke, the contract with MASwings that was supposed to end in 2024 would be terminated.