By George Francis
MIRI - Sarawak is awaiting clearance from the Federal Ministry of Transport for international flights via Malaysia Airlines diverted from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Miri Airport.
"This is to ensure Miri can receive the spillage of international flights' load to KK, especially tourists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea,"said Lee Kim Shin, Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communications.
He said Miri Airport has adequate facility and the city is ready to accept the influx of tourists.
He said with the Miri-Kota Kinabalu connection, these tourists or holiday-makers could have an extra excursion in Miri and beyond, such as the world heritage site of Mulu Caves, to the birth place of civilisation at Niah Caves or discover underwater Miri.
On chartered flights from overseas, Lee said the local tour operators were expected to come with feasible-planning and strategy models showing the potential impact and future competition.
Meanwhile, Miri Airport is the third busiest Malaysian airports in term of commercial aircraft movement after KLIA and Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
"The airport handles an average of 230 aircraft movement, including non-schedule flights daily in 2005," said Lee.
Miri Airport recorded 42, 306 commercial aircraft movement in 2004 after KK's 55,313 and 1,6463 in KLIA.
The airport also ranked fifth in passenger movement with 1.588 million recorded last year, an increase of 8.9 per cent compared to 1.513 in 2004.
With the increase in aircraft and passenger movement, the airport will this year have another open parking apron to cater for both MAS and AirAsia, especially for any diverted aircraft to Miri from Kota Kinablau or Kuching.
The rural air service aircraft will also be using a new apron at south wing for flights to Marudi, Mulu, Bario, Limbang, Lawas and Mukah.
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin