KOTA KINABALU: The United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) has hailed the move to undo the share swap between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia.
Upko secretary-general Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said the party shared the view that the two airlines should focus on their core competencies "which are being a low-cost airline for AirAsia and being a premier full service airline for MAS".
He said the party also supported the call for the two airlines to enter into a strategic collaboration.
"Upko fully supports MAS-AirAsia collaboration on this matter as long as what had been planned by MAS to make the Kota Kinabalu International Airport as its eastern hub, leveraging on the geographical advantages of the city as an ideal gateway for passengers travelling between major international destinations are not affected."
Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the government's investment arm, called off the share swap on Wednesday. It was quoted as saying that the parties had agreed to unwind the cross-holding of shares and revert to the original structure of major shareholdings of both companies.
The unwinding of the share swap will see Khazanah transferring its 10 per cent holdings, or 277,650,600 ordinary shares, in AirAsia back to Tune Air, which will in turn transfer its 20.5 per cent, or 685,142,000 ordinary shares, in MAS back to Khazanah.
In August last year, a comprehensive collaboration framework (CCF) was established to enable MAS, AirAsia and AirAsia X to explore opportunities to cooperate on a broad range of areas.
As part of the CCF, Khazanah and Tune Air entered into a share-swap agreement to align the interests of the primary shareholders of MAS and AirAsia, strengthening the potential for collaboration.
In the few months when the share swap was in force, Tangau said, MAS took drastic action to terminate direct flights to Kota Kinabalu, which affected tourist arrivals to Sabah.
To ensure this problem would not arise in the future, Upko urged the Federal Government to ensure that the Sabah government was represented in the MAS board of directors.
"We in Upko, believe the strength of the two airlines can be synergised through cooperation, especially by having a Supplementary Collaboration Framework." Bernama