MYAirline shutdown leaves tourism sector shaken

Diyana Ibrahim

The shutdown of MYAirlines could affect domestic tourism, as visitors will have one less budget option to fly. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 14, 2023.

LANGKAWI will be greatly hit by MYAirline’s sudden shutdown as travellers will lose a low-cost option to the holiday island, industry players said.

Langkawi Tourism Association president Ahmad Pishol Ishak said the island’s tourism sector is already struggling with expensive airline ticket prices.

He said MYAirline Sdn Bhd, which began operations nearly a year ago with two daily flights to Langkawi, had helped boost the number of tourist arrivals.

“Now that the flights have stopped, we are very worried it will affect tourist arrivals.

“It really doesn’t help the tourism sector in Langkawi, which is now very much in decline,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

MYAirline suspended operations on Thursday due to mounting financial pressure.

The low-cost airline had said it came to this “extremely painful decision” because of financial pressures that have made it necessary to suspend operations pending a shareholder restructuring and recapitalisation exercise.

Pishol said MYAirline’s suspension of operations led some tourists to cancel their hotel reservations, car rental services and other activities.

He, however, said they are still unsure how big of an impact it will have on Langkawi tour operators.

After MYAirline’s surprise shutdown, three local carriers – Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, and Batik Air – have offered assistance to affected passengers including discounts on ticket prices.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke had said a total of 125,000 passengers were affected by MYAirline’s decision to stop operations, resulting in estimated losses of RM20 million from sale of flight tickets until March next year.

Meanwhile, Fauzi Rahman, a tour operator in Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu is also concerned over a possible impact.

“Although MYAirline does not operate in Terengganu, it is advantageous for tourists who disembark in Kota Baru, Kelantan.

“Additionally, the distance from Kota Baru to the Besut jetty is only about 30-40 minutes.

“So most tourists will choose to get off at Kota Baru instead of Terengganu if they want to visit Pulau Perhentian,” he said.

He said some tourists have cancelled their reservations for this week.

“I haven’t received any cancellations yet, but other operators have, especially bookings for this week,” he said.

Besides Langkawi and Kota Baru, MYAirline also flies from Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Tawau, Sibu, Miri, and Penang, as well as Bangkok.

MYAirline started flying on December 1 last year to three destinations – Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi.

It flew the Airbus A320-200 jet with 180 seats in a single class cabin for the three routes, with tickets as low as RM48 one way.

MYAirline holds a valid air service licence until November 14. It was issued on November 15 last year.

The company currently has eight operating aircraft and 900 employees.

In recent weeks, rumours have swirled that MYAirline was facing serious financial trouble, including allegations of unpaid staff wages, late payment of service providers’ dues, and difficulty in raising funds for new aircraft leases. – October 14, 2023.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.