Tuesday, August 4

KIA now operating round the clock


Sarawak Tourism Board plans to invite top leaders of airlines to visit state this October

KUCHING: Kuching International Airport (KIA) will operate round the clock from today.

Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd KIA senior manager Sunif Naiman said a final inspection on the runway was carried out yesterday so that the airport could officially open 24 hours.

“By tomorrow (today) effective from 5.30am, we can accommodate the arrival of airlines after midnight. That means we are open round the clock,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference in conjunction with Firefly’s inaugural Johor Bahru-Kuching flight, Sunif said the inspection was carried out by Malaysia Airports, the consultant as well as main contractor.

Without disclosing details, he revealed that the runway project was behind schedule.

“The completion date was scheduled for last year, but due to certain hiccups, it has been slightly delayed,” he said.

The largest aeroplane that the KIA runway can accommodate is the Boeing 747-400 series.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said KIA’s 24-hour operations would be an added advantage for STB to further promote tourism.

“If the airport is operational round the clock, it would help to attract many airlines especially from North Asia.

“This is because their aircraft are land idle on ground, so, they can actually use the same aircraft to come here and go without distracting their normal flight schedule. That is an opportunity for us to be more marketing savvy,” he said.

He revealed that STB plans to invite top leaders of airlines to visit Sarawak this October to showcase KIA and the state’s tourist attractions.

“At least if they can’t operate regular schedules, they can operate chartered (flights),” he said.

On Firefly’s inaugural flight from KIA to Johor Bahru, Rashid said the move is in line with the airline’s target to make KIA one of its hubs.

He said he would carry out more discussions with Firefly to encourage the airline to expand their services to other areas in the state.

Indonesian low cost carrier Telstar, he said, would fly from Jakarta to Kuching via Pontianak starting next week.

“The last three months have seen the tremendous growth in tourist arrivals in Sarawak. Accumulatively from January to March, there has been a 9.9 per cent growth in visitor arrivals. This shows that the tourism industry is picking up,” he said.

Firefly flies from Johor Bahru to Kuching at 7.30am and 6.35pm daily, while the Kuching-Johor Bahru flights are at 9.55am and 8.30pm.

The airline will start its Sibu-Kuala Lumpur route on July 1.

For further information, log on to www.fireflyz.com.my.