MIRI: AirAsia is ready to mount four return direct flights weekly between here and Singapore starting Jan 21 next year.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan, who is also Minister of Tourism and Heritage, announced this in a press conference together with Datuk Sim Hock Guan, chairman of Miri Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry at SUPP Miri headquarters yesterday.
“The flights are on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, taking off at 8.30am from here, and at 10.50am from Singapore,” he said.
These flights are already open for booking online.
Dr Chan said 38 packages have already been lined up to support the passenger load which the airlines need to maintain the route.
Tour operators in Singapore have been wooed to promote Miri and the weekend market segment include drawing Singaporean students to visit Miri under the Singaporean government travel incentive scheme, Dr Chan said.
The state government is also targeting to bring 25 tour operators from the island state for a familiarisation tour here to enable them to promote Miri as a destination.
“One of our tasks is to ensure that the seats are filled up as it is all about the bottom line for AirAsia,” he said.
On the local front, those working in the oil and gas industry including those in Shell and Petronas would welcome the flights as they could fit into their travel plans, he said.
Sim, who welcomed the direct flights, said Dr Chan had worked hard to get them implemented.
He said Singapore was a practical and ready market with a population of over four million, and it should be tapped aggressively by tour operators.
He agreed with Dr Chan’s view that Singapore’s Changi aviation hub can also be tapped for tourists from other countries to fly to Miri, particularly in the MICE sector.
“There are a lot of meetings and conventions in Singapore, and we can offer packages to attract this segment.
“They can fly to Miri on Monday after their weekend conventions and return to Singapore by Wednesday,” he said.
Miri Division has five national parks, including Unesco’s World Natural Heritage Site in Mulu and Niah Caves with pre-historic civilisation.
The marine park offshore Miri is another attraction for diving buffs, with soft coral jungle and shipwrecks among the wonders of the underwater world.