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November 16, 2010

MAS centre at KKIA operational with maiden flight to Tokyo


KOTA KINABALU: National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines’ first domestic hub at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is now operational with the maiden arrival of the company’s latest aircraft, the Boeing 737-800.

After a brief stopover, the aircraft departed for Haneda, Tokyo representing the first flight from its eastern hub which MAS chairman Tan Sri Munir Majid projected could add as much as RM100m a year to the company’s bottomline.

“This new service provides us the opportunity to grow and expand to new destinations, adding to the rapidly developing opportunities in commerce and tourism in Sabah,” he said after the launching of the MAS Eastern Hub by Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman at KKIA here.

Also present was MAS managing director Tengku Datuk Seri Azmil Zahruddin.

 Here’s to smooth flying: Musa (right) shaking hands with Munir to commemorate the inauguration of the MAS Eastern Hub and the arrival of new aircraft MAS B737-800 at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport Monday. Also present was Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun (left) — Bernama 

Munir said the MAS Eastern Hub would be developed in three stages from now until June 3 next year and by then the airline would have stationed its two new Boeing 737-800 and the older Boeing 737-400 aircraft as well as 150 pilots and 250 cabin crew here.

From the KKIA hub, MAS would also be operating flights to Haneda, Seoul, Osaka, Kaohsiung, Taipei and Perth.

Munir noted that Sabah was a key desination for MAS, demonstrated by an average growth in passenger numbers over the past two years, with some 1.8 million passengers flying between the peninsula and the state during that period.

He said the inauguration of the KKIA Eastern Hub would also see MAS increasing the number of flights between Kuching and Kota Kinabalu from the the current 14 to 25 weekly.

Earlier, Musa said the setting up of the eastern hub at the KKIA augured well for the state’s goal of attracting 4.5 million tourists annually by 2020 from the current 2.36 million.

He said tourist arrivals to Sabah had increased at a rate of 20% a year over the past 10 years.

During the first half of 2010, tourist arrivals totalled 1.083 million, a 5.2% increase compared to the same period in 2008.

He said last year Sabah had 2.246 million visitors who spent nearly RM3.9bil.



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