Published on: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
BALIKPAPAN: MASwings began its service to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan on Feb. 1 - its fourth BIMP-EAGA destination after Bandar Seri Begawan, Pontianak and Tarakan.
"Today we created history on Borneo. Exactly on Feb 1, 2012 MASwings expanded into a bigger regional area of BIMP-EAGA with the first flight from KK and Kuching to BSB.
"With this fourth route, MASwings is ready to welcome Visit Malaysia Year 2014 which was announced by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen last month," said MASwings Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Capt. Mohd Nawawi Ahmad.
"Being the only national carrier that fully supports the BIMP-EAGA goals to increase transportation within the region, MASwings is proud to collaborate with local tourism bodies and agencies to further promote tourism in Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak in particular" added Nawawi at a press conference in Balikpapan.
He said MASwings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, embarked on this expansion solely to meet the objectives of BIMP-EAGA.
"There are 16 million people in this sub region and eight million people in the nine main cities. Our flight to Balikpapan is the fourth destination of that nine cities that we are targetting."
Nawawi said for the past year that they have been operating in BIMP-EAGA, the passenger load has been very encouraging.
"Initially some destinations were slow to pick up but later especially Pontianak and Tarakan has been very overwhelming. When we started operations into Tarakan, initially we operated three times a week but after two months we increased to daily flights.
From Tawau to Tarakan and from Kuching to Pontianak the load factor has been good.
"For the past one year, MASwings had an average of 50pc load factor serving Bandar Seri Begawan, Pontianak and Tarakan. "With the additional flights flying into Balikpapan, we are looking at increasing the load factor to an average of 70pc with 3,968 seats being offered on a weekly basis.
"We thank the people of Kalimantan for responding to our flights into Tarakan and Pontianak." With Indonesia and Malaysia being neighbours, Nawawi hoped this "air bridge" connectivity they can create even closer relations between the people of both countries.
"Today is a new chapter for MASwings. But we are not stopping here.
We are also looking at expanding into the other parts of Kalimantan i.e. Banjarmasin and into towns and cities in the Makassar area such as Ujung Pandang and Manado as part of phase two of MASwings expansion into BIMP-EAGA.
"Today we are here but probably by end of March or early April latest, we hope to launch our first operation into the Philippines, Palawan island and the beautiful city of Puerto Princessa. So probably people from here, by end of March, can come to Kota Kinabalu and onwards into the Philippines,' he said.
The first scheduled MASwings flight departed Kota Kinabalu International Airport carrying a group of invited guests and members of the media. The troupe arrived in Sepinggan International Airport, Balikpapan.
The second scheduled flight flew from Kuching and arrived in Balikpapan similarly with a group of invited guests including Assistant Minister of Tourism Sarawak Datuk Talip Zulpilip, as well as members of media from Kuching.
In conjunction with its inaugural flights into Balikpapan, MASwings is offering a special introductory fare of USD58 for a one way trip or USD78 for a return trip (all in fare) from Balikpapan to Kota Kinabalu or Kuching.
"I urge the public to start browsing our website to get the best fares and secure your booking before Feb. 14," said Nawawi.
Also present at the launching was East Kalimantan Governor Dr Awang Faroek Ishak, Sabah Tourism Board Chairman Datuk Tengku Zainal Adlin, Sarawak Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Sarawak Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer Datuk Rashid Khan and Bimp-Eaga Business Council's Datuk Roselan Johar Mohamed.