Daily Express
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Adding zest to connections

Published on: Friday, December 20, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: Connectivity between the State Capital and Philippines received a further boost Thursday with Philippines-based AirAsia Zest launching thrice-weekly flights between Cebu and Kota Kinabalu International Airport's (KKIA) Terminal 2.

The inaugural Flight Z2 191 from Cebu carried 120 guests on board including Filipino media representatives and bloggers.

They were welcomed by Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang, who represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, together with Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, its Deputy General Manager Gordon Yap and AirAsia Berhad CEO Aireen Omar.

Philippines' AirAsia CEO Maan Hontiveros was also in the flight, AirAsia Group's 10th international route into Kota Kinabalu. AirAsia is offering promotional all-in-fares from as low as RM90 one way from Thursday to Dec. 29 this year in conjunction with the occasion. Guests are able to travel from Dec. 20, 2013-Feb 28, 2014.

Other flights linking Sabah and Philippines are currently operated by Air Asia, MASWings and Cebu Pacific Air.

Aireen said it is another marvellous achievement and a great development for East Malaysia, following the recent celebration of the inaugural flight from Manila to Miri on Dec. 7, which is the first ever route operated by any airline in the region.

"We are proud with AirAsia Zest, our sister airline, for narrowing the gap between Malaysia and the Philippines, enhancing bilateral ties between the two nations and establishing a closer relationship between both communities," she said.

Hontiveros said the service will greatly improve air connectivity between the Queen City of the South and KK and other parts of the region where many Filipinos are experiencing poor connectivity and high fares.

"Our commitment in partnering with AirAsia, the world's best low cost carrier, is to build a truly great value airline that will serve the needs of Filipino travellers and overseas workers," she said.

She said visitors to Cebu will be delighted to know that this city is known for its pristine beaches, shopping districts and top notch resorts.

As one of the most highly developed cities in the Philippines, the Queen City of the South is also a hub of education, trade, business process outsourcing, commerce and industry aside from Metro Manila, she added.

"The recent earthquake did not daze Cebu as local and foreign tourists continue to flock to this place with various attractions such as heritage walk, food and music festivals, fiestas and unforgettable nightlife," said Hontiveros.

She said they have a plan to increase the Cebu-Kota Kinabalu flight frequencies after they receive their new fleet of aircraft.

AirAsia Zest, a low-cost carrier serving domestic destinations of Kalibo (Boracay), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Cebu, Davao, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Iloilo, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines with international points in Asia including China and South Korea from its hub in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Manila.

The Filipino LCC recently expanded its domestic operations out of Cebu to include Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

New international routes are Cebu-KL and Kota Kinabalu and Manila-Macau and Miri.

Musa in his speech read by Teo applauded AirAsia for its contribution in providing affordable air travel. "As a low cost carrier, this airline has encouraged more Malaysians and people from around the Southeast Asia region to fly in the past decade.

"Your vast network and connectivity have made it easier for locals and foreign tourists to explore many parts of Malaysia as well as various destinations within the region," said Musa.

"I must commend AirAsia for helping boost Sabah's economy, as tourism is one of the three thrusts of our development agenda, and is also strongly featured in Federal-led plans such as the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP)," he added.

"It would be almost impossible for tourism in Sabah to flourish without direct connectivity to regional destinations.

Your airline has also made it possible for Malaysians in the peninsula to regularly visit Sabah, and in the process, help promote better understanding among Malaysians on our similarities."

"AirAsia has revolutionised air travel to and from East Malaysia, instilled integration between the peninsula and East Malaysia and enabled intra-Asean travel with its superior connectivity and route network."

Calling on everyone involved in the tourism and service industry to work together in promoting Sabah not only as a tourist destination but also a hub for meetings and trade shows for further boosting the economy, Musa said this latest route will also help create more opportunities in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines - East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).