Sarawak's transport minister, Lee Kim Shin, met with Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) CEO Izham Ismail in Kuala Lumpur on July 24 to discuss the acquisition of MASwings (MY, Kota Kinabalu) by the Sarawak state government.

In an email to ch-aviation, a transport ministry spokesperson confirmed the meeting had happened, with substantial delegations from both sides also showing up. The spokesperson said the primary objective of the meeting was to brief MAG about the acquisition of MASwings. Currently, MAG is the airline's controlling entity, with MAG under the stewardship of the Khazanah Nasional sovereign wealth fund. Previously, on July 7, the minister met with Khazanah Nasional officials. The minister not only wants the smooth transition of ownership from MAG to the Sarawak state government, but also financial support from the sovereign wealth fund, including the ongoing subsidisation of regional air services (RAS) in Borneo that MASwings presently operate.

In what was described as a "fruitful meeting," Shin confirmed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Malaysian government on July 20 that secured ongoing RAS funding currently worth MYR209 million ringgit (USD45.9 million) annually.

"It was also decided that another MOU would be signed, together with MAG, to initiate further discussions and pave the way for a seamless takeover," reads a MAG statement issued after this week's meeting. "Through this comprehensive MOU, both parties can commence in-depth discussions, establish clear parameters, define the scopes, set timelines, and ensure a streamlined process for acquiring MASWings."

Previously, Sarawak's transport ministry had confirmed to ch-aviation that media reports of an MOU already signed between it and MAG were incorrect. This week, their spokesperson reinforced that, saying the only MASwings-related MOU signed to date was the one signed on July 20.