KOTA KINABALU, 2 May 2008 – Asia’s leading and largest low cost carrier today reaffirms Kota Kinabalu’s position as a regional hub when it officially launched its direct flights to the Land Below The Wind from Jakarta and Bali, Indonesia. This will further heighten Sabah’s position as a premier ecotourism destination led by AirAsia’s aggressive expansion plans towards becoming an ASEAN airline.
The launch was officiated by Y.A.B. Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah, with Dato’ Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia and Captain Dharmadi, CEO of Indonesia AirAsia in attendance. The event was also graced by Y.B. Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment of Sabah and distinguished guests from the Sabah Tourism Board, and over 100 guests from the various state government offices, media, hoteliers and travel agents.
Jakarta-Kota Kinabalu’s first flight commenced on 30 March 2008 and Bali-Kota Kinabalu’s inaugural flight will take off later this afternoon with both routes being serviced three (3) times per week. Kota Kinabalu hub currently serves 12 routes to and from Kota Kinabalu including Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Miri, Tawau, Sandakan, Shenzhen and Macau in China, Clark (Manila) in Philippines, and now Jakarta and Bali. Taking into consideration direct flights between Kuala Lumpur-Tawau and Kuala Lumpur-Sandakan, AirAsia has a total of 14 routes to and from Sabah.
Dato’ Tony Fernandes of AirAsia said, “Kota Kinabalu remains as our biggest Malaysian hub after Kuala Lumpur and we are pleased with the passenger growth to date. Our average load factor in 2007 for our Sabah routes exceeds 75% proving that low fares have made a big difference to growing traffic and raising Sabah’s tourism potential. By geographic location, air linkages play a crucial role in Sabah and it is vital for AirAsia to play its role to spearhead Sabah as the gateway for trade, investment and tourism in the region under the Sabah Development Corridor.”
“The two new routes will also draw more inbound international tourist traffic arriving from Bali and Jakarta (into Sabah), alongside from Kuala Lumpur through AirAsia X’s long haul network bringing in Australians and Chinese tourists, who are often interested to explore surrounding cities in the region and these routes will entice them to visit the state for its rich ecotourism activities.”
“We are happy to see our network growing from strength to strength. We first started flights to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur back in December 2001 and have since carried over 8 million guests to and from Sabah. We are a strong believer of ASEAN and with no doubt, our strong route network in the region is a testament of how we can bring ASEAN together. We have so much tourism potential in this region and in this case ecotourism, not forgetting to mention economic growth that can be derived from ASEAN.” concluded Tony.
Y.A.B Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah commented, “AirAsia’s arrival to our state has indeed opened various economic and business opportunities. We have seen some significant changes within the economic and social development context, particularly in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau. We are pleased to see the development that AirAsia has brought to the state which has promoted national and regional integration. AirAsia has along the way, positioned Sabah as a tourism destination and strengthened its growth commercially.”
Captain Dharmadi, CEO of Indonesia AirAsia, said, “Sabah is poised for tremendous growth and we are looking forward to build upon the successful relationship that AirAsia has with the State Government, and with these two new routes, we know we can attract more visitors to the region. We will continue to work closely together and further strengthen the relationship. On the other hand, Indonesia has so much to offer in which a cultural exchange between the two countries will indeed be a win-win situation.”
*Source from Air Asia Website
Here are few pix that day
Sabah Chief Minister & Dato' TF
Speech by TF
All thumbs up for a new route
Three beautiful girls from Air Asia Indonesia
Finally, the Man himself.
Hope you guys like it.