Tuesday, May 17

Abd Karim: Over 90 pct flight frequencies to S’wak reinstated

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Abdul Karim (second left) welcomes the newly arrived passengers. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (April 29): Sarawak has reinstated more than 90 per cent of the flight frequencies during the pre-pandemic stage with newly added routes such as the Penang to Kuching and Singapore to Miri, said Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

“This is certainly one of many milestones to come for Sarawak’s tourism sector as we embrace the transition to endemicity.

“I am extremely pleased to learn that the flight from Singapore today is a full load with 180 passengers. This only reinforces how treasured and closely connected our beloved city of Kuching is to Singapore.

“We would like to thank the AirAsia team for its undeterred efforts to make this possible again,” he told a press conference at the welcoming ceremony for the reinstated Singapore to Kuching flight by AirAsia today.

The AK1776 flight arrived at around 4.15pm, consisting of 46 per cent Malaysians coming home with the balance consisting of Singaporeans and other foreigners.

The welcoming ceremony was jointly organised by AirAsia and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), and supported by Malaysia Airports.

Abdul Karim believes that the resumption of international flights comes at the right time for both tourists and locals in Sarawak, who have been excitedly anticipating and planning their travels.

He noted that this is great progress to reach the state’s target of 1.2 million arrivals this year, with the help of airline partners to provide greater accessibility to Sarawak.

“We look forward to seeing more new direct routes and an increase in the frequency of direct flights from Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia,” he added.

On whether the 1.2 million target would include tourists from China, which is mostly under lockdown at the moment, Abdul Karim said the visitor numbers are not segregated by nationality.

AK1776 given a water cannon salute upon arrival at Kuching International Airport. – Photo by Chimon Upon

He explained that when it comes to visitors, all who come in through the international borders are considered as visitors.

“Not all of China is under lockdown. The way I see it, it’s just temporary. People in other provinces can still move around. We are not only looking at China as our main source of visitors, we are promoting aggressively in Singapore, and in May we are going to Germany and Holland.

“So we can see all these promotions will definitely bring visitors from other parts of the world. With the festivals we are hosting here, we are not just promoting to China, we are promoting to all over the world,” he said, adding that with travel restrictions easing, more visitors can be expected.

Abdul Karim also informed that Sarawak has also increased its domestic flight frequencies from 562 flights to 615 flights as of April 7.

“For visitors wanting to fly directly to the southern region, they can take direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, lpoh, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi and Kota Bahru to Kuching.

“For the northern region, visitors can fly directly from Kuala Lumpur and Johor to Miri. Meanwhile, for those who are interested to visit the central region they can take direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Penang to Sibu. We foresee that there will be many more to come in the near future,” he said.

Also present were Deputy Minister for Transport Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Ministry permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, STB chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor, and AirAsia Chief Commercial Officer Tan Mai Yin.

AirAsia is offering a daily flight frequency between Kuching and Singapore and four times weekly between Miri and Singapore. Promotional one-way all-in fares are available for booking on the airasia Super App from as low as RM69 one-way (Kuching-Singapore) and RM79 one way (Miri-Singapore). Book these special fares from now until May 1 for travel between September 12 this year and March 25, 2023.