KOTA KINABALU: AirAsia celebrates its maiden flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Kota Kinabalu on Thursday, marking the first AirAsia Thailand flight to East Malaysia.
The inaugural service departed Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok on Thursday and was joined by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia Mohamaddin Ketapi.
The flight was welcomed with a water cannon salute upon landing at Kota Kinabalu International Airport and was received by Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment of Sabah Christina Liew, AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer Riad Asmat and AirAsia Malaysia head of commercial Spencer Lee.
In a statement, Riad Asmat said, “We are pleased to welcome our inaugural flight from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu. We launched our first flight to Kota Kinabalu back in 2002, and have flown more than 39 million guests from and to the city since.
“We now connect Kota Kinabalu to 18 destinations across the region with 332 weekly flights. We hope that our new direct service between Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu will bring more positive impact, not just to the state’s tourism and economic sector, but to the communities in Sabah as well.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both Federal and State Tourism Ministry for supporting the low-cost business model and for engaging stakeholders, including AirAsia, to improve the connectivity in and out of Sabah.”
Mohamaddin Ketapi said collaboration for air accessibility into Malaysia is very much welcomed, adding that he was pleased that AirAsia Thailand has expanded its route to Sabah.
“Thailand is an important market for Malaysia with potential for growth especially with the interest in travel among Thais and the range of tourism products in Malaysia that cater to their needs.
“Sabah definitely has a lot of attractive tourism offerings that appeal to Thai tourists. Besides our rainforests, islands and beaches, Sabah is also a seafood haven. I hope that industry players of both countries will work together with AirAsia Thailand to promote Malaysia and vice versa to ensure the sustainability of this route.”
Meanwhile, Liew on behalf of the State Government welcomed the inaugural of the direct connectivity to Bangkok by AirAsia Thailand.
“KKIA is now connected to 21 international cities, certainly Bangkok is a very important hub to be linked to us. It’s one of AirAsia’s busiest hubs that connects long haul destinations from USA, Europe, Russia, the Middle East as well as India.
“Besides the young Thai travellers who are food enthusiasts and keen adventurers, we will also be looking at attracting the expat community working for international organizations over there.”
AirAsia Group currently flies from Kota Kinabalu to 9 international destinations (Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Taipei) and 8 domestic destinations (Kuala Lumpur, Tawau, Sandakan, Miri, Kuching, Penang, Kota Bharu and Johor Bahru). AirAsia will also operate Kota Kinabalu – Macao route effective November this year.
Source: Borneo Post Online