The state government of Sarawak in the Malaysian part of Borneo is considering setting up its own carrier, possibly on the basis of Hornbill Skyways (Kuching), The Borneo Post has reported.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said that the state would want to connect the capital Kuching with "strategic destinations" in the region, such as Hong Kong Int'l, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l, and Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta.

Hornbill Skyways, which the state is considering using as a platform to build its own airline, is a passenger charter specialist using a fleet of one Bombardier Aerospace Challenger 605, one King Air 350i, two Super King Air B200s, and ten helicopters.

Abang Johari said that the state would like to launch the airline "as soon as possible".

"In fact, this is not something new as we had wanted to take over MASwings (MY, Kota Kinabalu) from Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) but the negotiation did not go through. I believe one of the reasons was that MAB was worried we might become their competition once we take over MASwings," he added, as quoted by the New Straits Times.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, Kuching currently sees 496 weekly scheduled departures operated by AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, Scoot, Wings Air (Indonesia), Royal Brunei Airlines, and cargo specialist Raya Airways. It does not have direct scheduled services to any of the cities mentioned by Abang Johari. Kuching is also set to shortly lose its only scheduled route to mainland China, AirAsia's service to Shenzhen.