Saturday, December 24, 2011

Flights cut to hit Sabah tourism

KOTA KINABALU: The latest decision by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to suspend four routes involving Sabah regional network early next year will have a short-term negative impact on tourist arrivals in Sabah, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said the state tourism industry will take some time to realign its marketing strategy and priority.

Masidi, who revealed his Ministry was aware of MAS’ impending move to suspend these routes as they have had a series of high level meetings with MAS management to discuss the issue and to appeal to them not to proceed with this drastic move, said they are nevertheless “not going to cry over spilled milk”.

“We are moving on. We have in fact started strategising our next moves to overcome this latest challenge and believe that this MAS episode would be a temporary setback,” he said.

MAS announced on Thursday that the suspension of the four routes is in addition to its rationalisation exercise involving eight routes of its international network announced last week.

The four routes and dates the suspensions take effect are twice-weekly Kota Kinabalu-Osaka return B737 route (January 6, 2012); thrice-weekly Kota Kinabalu-Perth return B737 route (January 31, 2012); four times weekly Kota Kinabalu-Haneda (Tokyo) return B737 route (February 1, 2012) and four times weekly Kota Kinabalu-Seoul return B737 route (February 21, 2012).

MAS Group chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said: “This suspension is until further notice and is part of our regional network consolidation involving single-aisle aircraft operations.

“We will be reviewing this situation in about three months time from the date of the first route suspension and will be deciding further by early April 2012″

“During the suspension, we will take advantage of our existing code-share operations with Korean Air to provide direct connectivity between Sabah and South Korea using the Korean carrier’s Seoul-Kota Kinabalu return direct flights.

“We will also continue offering direct international connectivity to Kota Kinabalu through our existing daily B737 flights from Hong Kong and Taipei.

“In addition we will also use our existing 86 weekly flights between Sabah and KL International Airport (KLIA) to provide immediate connections for passengers who prefer full service flights between Sabah and the cities of Perth, Tokyo, and Osaka,” he added.

Continue reading at: Flights cut to hit Sabah tourism

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