Kota Kinabalu: Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana has promised to resume direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Jakarta by the end of this year.
Rusdi, who is also the founder of Indonesia’s largest privately run airline, Lion Air, said he is looking at starting with two flights a week and will decide to increase when demand grows.
“We’re serious about this. I’ve made a promise publicly,” he said, after meeting with Indonesian community representatives at the Indonesian Consulate, Thursday.
Previously, the route was serviced by AirAsia but airline ended it in January, this year and since then passengers from Sabah wanting to fly to the Indonesian capital have to transit in Kuala Lumpur.
Rusdi said Lion Air will start the route before Christmas this year at low cost ticket prices.
Part of his bigger business plan is to include a third destination, most likely in China, in order to ensure that flights servicing the sector will stay profitable.
“We need to go beyond just KK-Jakarta. Maybe we can also include destinations like Taiwan, China or Hong Kong,” he said, adding that he will bring the matter to Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and his federal counterpart.
Established in 1999, Lion Air is the second largest low-cost airline in Southeast Asia after AirAsia and the second largest airline of Indonesia, flying to more than 79 destinations in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia as well as charter routes to China, Hong Kong and Macau.
As of January 2014, the airline served a total of 120 destinations, 100 domestic and 20 international.
It was the first low cost airline in Indonesia.
Rusdi is also a key stakeholder in Malindo Air.
He said if the KK-Jakarta route grows, the next move is to explore the possibility of establishing direct flights from the state capital to other destinations in Indonesia, including Makassar. – Leonard Alaza and Brenda Chai
Source: Daily Express