by Mary Francis, email@example.com. Posted on October 2, 2013, Wednesday
HISTORIC MOMENT: Ngau (third left) admires a picture of Viking Series 400 presented to him by Mohd Nawawi (third right).
MIRI: Bario created history and earned pride when it was selected by community airline MASwings as the centre for the launching of its new aircraft – Twin Otter Viking Series 400.
Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau represented Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tung Openg to officiate at the special ceremony held at the village’s multi-purpose hall.
The Viking Series 400 is one of the six new aircraft added to MASwings in an effort to increase flight frequencies to the rural areas in Sarawak and Sabah.
MASwings chief executive officer Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang said the company took delivery of the aircraft from Victoria, Canada on Aug 2, 2013 and began its operation on Sept 16 in conjunction with Sarawak’s 50th anniversary of independence within Malaysia.
The aircraft departed Victoria on Aug 10, heading up to Alaska, over the Bearing Sea to Eastern Russia. From there, it started to head out to South Korea, Taiwan and The Philippines before arriving in Kota Kinabalu after a journey of eight days.
“Above all, we are most proud with our pilot, Captain Stefanus Angkom, an Iban from Saratok who conducted the ferry flight all the way from Canada to Kota Kinabalu.
“To me, this is not just another new aircraft, but to be flown by our own native and delivered to our community is another historic moment that will be cherished,” Mohd Nawawi proudly announced.
According to Mohd Nawawi, the second aircraft was now on its way from Canada and was expected to arrive in a few days’ time, while the third was expected to arrive in early November.
With these new aircraft, MASwings would cease the use of the old aircraft which would have been operating for more than 20 years by the quarter of next year.
He said the new aircraft would be used to connect the rural communities, especially in Sarawak and Sabah, in tandem with MASwings responsibility as a community airline to provide air service to the interior such as Bario in the highlands of Borneo.
With the new aircraft, he also said they would be able to increase flight frequencies to the rural areas and meet the demand for more flights during festive seasons like Christmas, Easter and `Pesta Nukenen’ (Cultural and Food Festival).
Rurum Kelabit Sarawak (RKS) deputy president councillor Robert Ayu and vice chairman Dr Roland Dom Mattu and community chiefs were among those present to witness the launching ceremony.