Malaysia Airlines last week launched Kota Kinabalu in Sabah as its Eastern hub with 2 milestone events - the inaugural flight of its new B737-800 from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu and the first flight from Kota Kinabalu to Haneda, Tokyo.
Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment Sabah, Datuk Masidi Manjun and Malaysia Airlines Chairman, Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid welcomed the new aircraft filled with guests on the inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur which included the Deputy Minister of Transport Malaysia, Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.
Malaysia Airlines is the first full service airline in the world to operate the B737-800 with the new Boeing Sky Interior. Guests in business and economy class enjoyed an inflight entertainment system which offers audio and video on demand, roomier interior, better ambience and higher ceilings.
Chief Minister Musa Haji Aman declared: “Sabah celebrates a milestone today – the launch of Kota Kinabalu as Malaysia Airlines’ Eastern Hub. We are also honoured to receive the new B737-800, the first in Malaysia Airlines’ fleet modernization programme, which will be parked at Kota Kinabalu to operate international flights. “The first flight from the Eastern Hub commences today with the flight to Haneda, the city airport of Tokyo at 4.35pm. I understand that the flight is almost full, testament to the great teamwork between MAS and Sabah Tourism Board in promoting Sabah.”
He added, “I am also delighted to announce that Sabah will enjoy three weekly flights to Perth effective 15 January 2011. This will complement the direct flights announced earlier to key regional destinations. All these will provide a major boost to Sabah’s trade and tourism.”
The Chief Minister also reiterated Sabah’s commitment to tourism and conservation to ensure the state remains a key destination for tourists.
“We have seen an average increase of 20% per annum in tourist arrivals over the last 10 years. We would like to see an increase as we continue to focus on conserving the unique heritage in Sabah – sun, sea, land and people,” he added.
During the first half of 2010, tourist arrivals totaled 1.083 million, a 5.2% increase compared to the same period last year. Sabah’s tourism receipts in 2009 were RM3.875 billion, with 2.246 million tourist arrivals. Malaysia Airlines Chairman, Tan Sri Munir Majid said, “The inauguration of Kota Kinabalu as national carrier’s Eastern hub reiterates our commitment to Sabah, an ideal gateway for travels to and from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.
“Since the announcement was made in early August, we have been working even more closely with Sabah Tourism. Firstly, this is to identify other key destinations like flights to Perth, which will commence January 2011. Secondly, to raise awareness of the state’s unique offerings and thirdly, to synchronise our flight schedules to provide customers with seamless connectivity.”