Several preparations are needed to be carried out for Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) to fly to the usual and new destinations while other considerations have also to be looked into in a COVID-19 situation, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said.
He said during normal circumstances, the airline needs at least two months in advance to announce the opening of a new destination, while with the current circumstances it needs more than two months as several matters need to be taken into account.
“The fact is we haven’t announced the reopening of some existing destinations. This means we are still quite a few months away from the actual opening. But I can assure that there is a very intensive discussion with RB at the moment, in terms of the strategies going forward because things are not going to be normal like previously,” he said.
The minister said in the aviation industry, based on some reports, it would take a few years before it returns to normal where everyone will feel comfortable to travel again.
He said this is only a prediction.
“Those involved in the tourism sector will have to start evaluating their businesses. Workers in the sector might need to do something else while waiting for the tourism sector to bounce back,” he added.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew explained, “All these are because of COVID-19. Learning from this, in the future, it could be the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will affect the nature of our jobs and so on. This is the thing we need to prepare ourselves. Changes are inevitable and we need to remain flexible and more adaptable.
“COVID-19 is a lesson that we always need to be more flexible and adaptable to new jobs.”
The minister also pointed out that airfare has the potential to be more expensive due to additional costs for airlines.
“Some major airlines, need 80 to 85 per cent occupancy to break-even. For example with the COVID-19, there is a requirement to leave empty seats and airlines might not be able to achieve the 80 per cent to break-even and naturally there is a potential for an increase in fare,” he said.
“Like any business, we need to find ways to be more efficient. Airlines need to think about the solutions to reduce other costs to accommodate the higher cost as a result of COVID-19 so that overall they can still survive or even more be competitive,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said.