KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysia Airlines (MAS) inaugural Perth-Kota Kinabalu touched down at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) yesterday, carrying the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun and 155 other passengers on the airline’s new 160-seater Boeing 737-800.
The Kota Kinabalu-Perth route is MAS’s second international destination after its Eastern Hub was announced last October.
Masidi said the launch of the inaugural flight was an important milestone in effort to promote the country, especially Sabah.
He further said the route would provide an additional facility to the large number of Sabahans residing in Perth.
“Apart from students, there are quite a number of Sabahans or ex-Sabahans residing in Perth, as many
as 20,000. There are many Malaysians who have put up their second home in Perth,” Masidi said, while adding that he did not have the number of Sabahan students in Perth.
In the press conference, he lauded MAS for accepting the his ministry’s request to introduce the Kota Kinabalu-Perth flight. Masidi also urged Sabahans to work hard in sustaining the Kota Kinabalu-Perth flight.
“Eventually MAS makes commercial decisions, we must have sufficient load to justify the flight.”
Masidi further complimented the experience the new aircraft brings to passengers, saying that the economy class enjoyed better seats as well as their own television terminal.
On introducing new destinations, MAS chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid said the airline would currently focus on improving its existing routes.
“Our priority is to work on existing routes to make sure the load is high,” he said. Should the load is sufficient, Munir said the next step would be to increase the frequency of flights.
“If we develop new routes without deepening what we have, it will be like a scattergun approach. We have a more focused approach.”
Asked if MAS would offer special rates for students studying at Perth, Munir said the airline did look at how to offer special rates in other places but have not looked into Perth yet.
The service offers thrice weekly non-stop flights departing Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 6pm and arriving in Perth at 11.35pm. These three new flights will complement the current 10 non-stop flights from Kuala Lumpur to Perth.
In celebration of this new service, MAS is offering all inclusive one way promotional fares starting RM 597 for travel from January 16 to June 30 this year. The promotional fares will be available from January 16 to 31.