KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airlines celebrated its inaugural Kota Kinabalu-Penang and Penang-Kuching flights with a welcome and send-off event at both Kota Kinabalu and Kuching airport yesterday.
Sabah Tourism Board together with Malaysia Airlines’ and MASwings representatives led by Malaysia Airlines Chief Operating Officer, Capt Izham Ismail welcomed MH2732 from Penang by handing out goodies to passengers at Kota Kinabalu International Airport. The return flight, MH2733, was also given a special send-off token.
“We have received tremendous support from passengers flying on our Penang-Kuching and Penang–Kota Kinabalu routes. We are looking at very encouraging advanced book loads of 70-80%, with our passengers mostly traveling over the holidays and upcoming festive seasons,” said Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer, Arved von Zur Muehlen.
“We are confident that this connectivity will lead to greater domestic tourism for Malaysia’s largest secondary cities,” he added.
“Domestic arrivals is our main market source. We see continued growth of +3.6% on single-month comparison between the month of August this year and last year. In total, domestic arrivals registered +0.3% growth or 1.440 million up to the first eight months of this year. This brings a total nett of 2.089 million or +5.7% (2015: 1.976 million) arrivals into Sabah,” Sabah Tourism Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai reported.
“We are expecting higher growth in the coming months especially after a successful partnership with Malaysia Airlines during a familiarization trip by Malaysia’s top social media influencers and bloggers to Sandakan recently,” Joniston added.
Meanwhile, at Kuching International Airport, MH2724 was welcomed with cultural performances on the first arrival from Penang. Representatives from the airline together with Sarawak Tourism Board handed out souvenirs to passengers upon disembarkation.
In attendance were Chairman of Sarawak Tourism Board, Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Sarawak Tourism Board, Mary Wan Mering, Malaysia Airlines’ Commercial Regional Manager for Malaysia Region, Nicholas Kong Chong King and its Sarawak Assistant Sales Manager, Alias Suut and team.
The airline is currently utilizing the B737-800 aircraft on both routes and operates the Penang-Kota Kinabalu and Penang-Kuching routes four times weekly.