PARIS: Sabah and Sarawak are major promotional platforms for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to the French market.
MAS area manager for France, Spain, Portugal and Nordic countries Sarjanisham Darus said this is because the island of Borneo is more well-known among the French than Malaysia in general.
“Borneo is one of the popular destinations for the French public as far as Malaysia is concerned. They know Borneo more, destinations like, Sabah, Sarawak, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and whatnot are quite popular here,” he said during a press conference recently.
He said MAS is working with Tourism Malaysia to promote the two East Malaysian states by flying in media personnel, both from print as well as radio broadcasters, to learn more about tourism products in Sabah and Sarawak.
At present, he added, Sabah is the more popular of the two states among French travellers.
“Sabah is quite rich in terms of its tourism products. You’ve got the eco-tourism, and Mount Kinabalu and obviously Sipadan and Mabul islands for diving and whatnot,” he said.
Sarjanisham added that MAS’ recent alliance with oneworld – the world’s third largest global airline group – would definitely boost operations in France as the union would help MAS fit into the various hubs in Europe through code-sharing with other partner airlines.
The current oneworld members are American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines (JAL), LAN, Malev, Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and S7 Airlines.
MAS is a member elect along with airberlin and Kingfisher.
There are also 19 airline affiliates under the alliance.
Meanwhile, MAS products are currently available at 5,000 agencies in France.
The airline is the only full service carrier operating direct to Malaysia and managed a 56 per cent market share of the traffic from Paris to Kuala Lumpur this year, up from 49 per cent last year, on the route despite intense competition.
It has an average load factor of 82 per cent, with 25 per cent of passengers
being corporate clients, while the rest are leisure travellers.
In the last 12 months, the route served some 83,000 passengers, with around 50,000 originating from France.
Currently the airline operates daily direct flights from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) with the Boeing 777-200ER.
MAS marked its 30th anniversary in Paris last April.
Its first flight to Paris from Kuala Lumpur via Dubai was on April 2, 1981.