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Sabah economy takes flight

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s economy is gaining traction with the increasing number of tourist arrivals at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) here, says Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

The Transport Minister said between January and August this year, tourist arrivals at KKIA stood at 5.3 million as compared to 4.7 million in the same period last year.

“This is an increase of more than 13%, a double-digit growth that is impressive by any measure,” he said after opening the state MCA annual general meeting yesterday.

Liow said his ministry was prepared to engage more airlines to use KKIA to fly more tourists into the state.

He said Sandakan airport was also being upgraded to complement KKIA.

“The runway is being extended from the current 2.1km to 2.6km at a cost of RM80mil.

“This will enable the airport to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft such as the Boeing 777 or Airbus 330,” he said.

Liow, who is also MCA president, said the Federal Government, through his ministry, was also doing all possible to make Sepanggar Port more efficient as part of its long-term measures to reduce costs of goods in the state.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who was also present, said the Government was responsive to concerns of Sabahans such as scrapping the unpopular cabotage policy, paving the way for the port to be “busier than ever”.

“Sepanggar is now essentially an open port and this will help to drive Sabah’s economy,” Dr Wee added.

Recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the scrapping of the policy that limits the shipment of goods from the peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak to only Malaysian-flagged ships, effective June 1.

The 30-year-old policy has been blamed for the higher costs of goods in Sabah.

However, the policy will still be applicable to cargo shipping operations within Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

Dr Wee said the Opposition had spoken out against the policy when it was in place but then voiced its disagreement when it was being removed.

He said as such, Sabahans should be wary of their tactics which were mainly to stir up the people’s emotions.

“Their leaders claim to want to protect the rights of Sabahans but they have shown time and again that what they say and do are two different things,” he said.

Source : The Star

KK to Jakarta direct by December

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

Up to airlines on direct flight to Sandakan

KOTA KINABALU: It is up to the airline companies if they want to provide direct flights to and from Sandakan, said Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming yesterday.

When asked by reporters if his ministry would help to realise the establishing of direct flights to Sandakan from international destinations, like Singapore, Pang said that while the ministry welcomed such idea, it had to be understood that airline companies were private entities and they would only be proactive to the idea if they see the viability of such a decision.

“It is up to the studies that they carry out. We have proposed to AirAsia and also to Malaysia Airlines before … but they didn’t think it was viable,” he said.

He added that having direct flights from international origins have a huge impact on the tourism sector of the destination.

“There will be a hike in tourism arrivals,” he said, citing one of the impacts that would take place.

Pang said his ministry would continue to promote other destinations in Sabah to airline companies and discuss with them the sustainability of such flights.

Source : The Borneo Post

Jeju Air to bring in more Korean tourists from July

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah could see an increase in Korean tourist arrivals once Jeju Air officially enters the state’s airspace on July 20, this year.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, who announced this here yesterday, is optimistic that the arrivals will increase above 2015’s 138,867, especially with Korea’s positive economic development.

He said the combination of existing major Korean airlines, Asiana Airlines, Eastarjet and Jin Air with Jeju Air would increase the total flights to 28 a week with 704 seats sold daily.

Jeju Air will provide direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Incheon.

“I think this is a very good development because it gives the space for more tourists from Korea to come to Sabah, and it is our hope, it will boost the tourism in Sabah, specifically and in Malaysia, in general,” said Masidi, when launching the ASEAN-Korea Tourism Capacity Building Workshop.

“This is a good start. I think Koreans know Sabah very well, obviously, but I think there are also Koreans who still need more information about Sabah. Our advantage is that there are many Koreans living in Kota Kinabalu and that makes them feel at home, which I think is an advantage for us,” he added.

However, the minister affirmed that there is a need to expand the promotion of Sabah beyond Korea’s capital and largest metropolis, Seoul.

In 2014, Sabah received 114,240 tourist arrivals from Korea and according to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia and Korea Tourism Organization, the number of Korean visitors into Malaysia and Malaysian visitors into Korea were 421,161 and 223,350 respectively in 2015.

According to Masidi, the January to March 2016 projection this year for South Korea had increased by 33.9% from 38,179 to 51,123, China increased by 60.3% from 55,364 to 88,746, Taiwan increased by 8.3% from 8,912 to 9,653, Australia increased by 16.3% from 6,362 to 7,402 and Brunei by 0.3% from 22,848 to 22,915.
Source : The Borneo Post