The Malaysian state of Sarawak is inching towards launching its own airline, with Premier Abang Johari Tun Openg telling media this week that the state was awaiting licensing approval from the Malaysian government. The so-called 'boutique' start-up carrier would be operated and managed by state-owned local charter operator Hornbill Skyways (Kuching).

"What's left now, we're just waiting for license approval from the Ministry of Transport to operate," the premier said at a media event on Sunday, November 13. "God willing, within three months our wish will come true."

Earlier this year, ch-aviation reported that the plan had the support of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and was eyeing funding from the Khazanah Nasional Berhad (the Malaysian government sovereign wealth fund).

Abang Johari says the purpose of the planned airline would be to bring more tourists to Sarawak. According to the ch-aviation capacities module, the route between Kuala Lumpur International and Kuching, Sarawak's capital, is the second busiest in Malaysia, with four airlines - AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia X, and Batik Air Malaysia - presently providing 47,158 seats a week.

Hornbill Skyways is a regional charter airline based at Kuching International Airport. According to its website, it operates a fleet of ten helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft, including one Beech (twin turboprop) Super King Air B200 GT, two Beechcraft King Air 350Is, and one Bombardier Challenger 605 jet. The Sarawak government has not yet outlined what type of aircraft they plan to use for their proposed boutique airline nor how they will obtain them.