MIRI: Malindo Air has resumed its suspended flights from Kuala Lumpur to Miri with effect from yesterday, bringing cheer to travellers on business, official duties or leisure.
The flight with 129 passengers on board took off from KLIA at 8am and touched down here about
10am yesterday to a warm welcome from Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Dato Ik
Pahon, deputy Resident Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and representatives from Sarawak Tourism Board, Miri Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association.
At a press conference in Miri Airport lounge later, the airlines’ chief commercial officer Dato Bernard Francis apologised for the airlines’ flight suspension since Nov 1, 2013 due to commercial reasons. He said the airlines was now better poised as a regional airlines with full-fledged service and greater connectivity game plan.
The airlines would also reinstate the Kuala Lumpur-Sibu direct flights this year as part of its strategy to relook into Sarawak markets. The route was discontinued in the past, also for commercial reasons.
“We will look into other routes in Sarawak like Bintulu if it is commercially viable,” Bernard added.
He added the airlines would consider the Miri-Shenzhen flight proposal for it to be viable, including the scheduled
chartered approach with support from industry players in the state.
Bernard, representing his CEO Rama Chandran Muthy, said the resumption of flights to Miri and to Sibu next was part of its aggressive plan to connect urban centres in the state, including four daily flights to Kuching from KLIA presently.
The airlines is also eyeing the Kuching-Miri sector which it considers a great route with the highest passengers’ movement domestically.
He said increasing flight frequency was the way forward before expanding to more destinations.
Malindo Air currently flies to 27 destinations.
In welcoming the return of Malindo Air, Lee suggested the introduction of direct flights to Miri and Malindo Air flying to more destinations to fill the void left by Malaysia Airlines’ restructuring programme.
He was referring to the busy Kuching-Miri sector to cater for the needs of day trippers in the private and public sectors, KL-Kuching-Miri and Kuching-Pontianak sectors apart from increasing the Miri-KL flights frequency.
On his proposal for a direct Miri-Shenzhen flight, Lee said this would depend on the availability of slots at this busy airport and passengers load for it to be economically viable.
“If it were scheduled flights, perhaps scheduled chartered flights would be ideal as there is a big demand for chartered services by Chinese travellers,” he said.
Lee said the tour operators and business people were clamouring for this as “Shenzen is just a stone throw away from Hong Kong and is well linked to other cities such as Guangzhou and Beijing”.
He suggested that the airlines discussed with the travel industry players and chambers of commerce in the state on the possibility of taking up half of the seats to make it viable.