Kota Kinabalu: Sabah takes another step towards strengthening its BIMP-EAGA relations with the start of a twice-weekly direct flight to Zamboanga from the State capital effective April 7.
A direct flight from Sandakan to Zamboanga has been existent for some time and the addition of another from Kota Kinabalu is expected to generate more business, tourism and investments.
Despite seeing many similar ventures come and go, the Filipino-owned South Phoenix Airways, which is providing the flight, is adamant that its service would prevail.
Its commercial director, Glenn K. Lamela, said with the large presence of Filipinos here and the opening of an agency in Brunei, there should be no problem for the service to prosper in the region.
"We have a very large Filipino population here (and) we have noted an increased movement down to Brunei already. With our presence here and in Sandakan, we are in the position to serve the needs of the Philippines," he said.
He estimated there were about half a million Filipinos in Brunei and Sabah and maintained the numbers could just be enough to sustain the service.
Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Karim Hj Bujang, said the service was a step towards enhancing and strengthening bilateral relations and that his Ministry would try to do everything it could to sustain it.
"I remember we spent quite a fair bit to launch the Australian Airlines (direct service). But again, by the end of the day, business is decided on free market forces," he told reporters at Beverly Hotel, here, Thursday.
Mary Ann Montemayor, Chairman of the BIMP-EAGA and Tourism Council of Philippines sees the service as a launchpad for fortifying regional relations.
"The initiative of bringing direct air services between Zamboanga and Kota Kinabalu is very much encouraging in light of our overall effort to invigorate the revitalisation of BIMP-EAGA.
"On this note we are very happy that South Phoenix Airways has embarked on this flight as this will really pave the way for more trade and business interactions within the growth area," she said.
Glenn said the service on Thursdays and Sundays will use the 60-seater YS 11-500 aircraft.
All arrivals and departures will operate from Terminal Two, Tg Aru.
Source: Daily Express