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AirAsia unveils 'Thank You Sabah' livery
Published on: Thursday, December 04, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: The world's best low-cost airline for six consecutive years, AirAsia, unveiled its special livery "Thank You Sabah" on its A320 aircraft at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Terminal 2 on Wednesday.The latest livery that took nine days to complete was dedicated to the State and people of Sabah for their undivided support for the airline's significant presence in the State.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the special livery also marks the airline's commitment to Sabah, to further boost its economic standing via enhanced tourism activities and business opportunities.

Apart from promoting Sabah in the airline routes, he said it also reflects the strong relationship between Sabah and the airline.

"I wish to thank AirAsia for dedicating the special livery to Sabah and its people. We are proud to be associated with a successful and significant airline, and are happy to have Sabah personified on an aircraft flown all over the region, grabbing the attention and evoking the interest of foreign tourists in the State.

"With the airline's significant presence in Sabah and the number of passengers flown into the State, it has resulted in impressive tourism growth and has helped expand further economic growth opportunities.

"We are proud to be part of AirAsia's expansion plans and Kota Kinabalu has been chosen as one of the airline's hubs in Malaysia," he said. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun delivered Musa's speech.

Also present were Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, STB General Manager Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks, AirAsia Berhad Executive Chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, its Chief Executive Officer Aireen Omar, and Director Dato Fam Lee Ee.

Musa said the State Government will always support ideas or proposals that are beneficial for Sabah and open to discussing plans that help create impact in terms of tourism and commerce opportunities.

"It is our hope that AirAsia will identify and secure more direct routes to Kota Kinabalu, and with that increase trade and tourism in Sabah.

"I clearly remember the time many years ago, when Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and his partners were looking for funds to start the airline, and asked for an appointment to see me when I was then Sabah Finance Minister.

"I was curious with the idea of a low-cost airline in the country. Tony presented a solid business plan and I had a good feeling about it and was therefore confident that this venture would be successful that led to Sabah Development Bank (SDB) approving a loan for AirAsia. Tony was indeed a good salesman,," Musa said.

Meanwhile AirAsia Berhad CEO Aireen Omar said the AirAsia's new special livery, which is painted only on its one A320, has high value of advertisement in promoting Sabah, that the State is safe to visit.

She said the aircraft would fly to more than 180 routes and between 70 and 80 destinations in South East Asia and Asean region.

"People will be curious to know where Sabah is and what they can do in Sabah as well as check out the interesting places to visit in the State, when they see our livery on the aircraft.

"We are also creating markets and awareness for people to know Sabah in all Asean countries as well as this is our way to promote Sabah that has done so much for the airline.

It is also our way to show that Sabah is safe to visit to potential tourists," she said.

In 2002, Aireen said the airline established Sabah as its hub and it managed to grow Kota Kinabalu at a faster rate, increased its connectivity, not only to the peninsula but also within Borneo.

"Our operations in Sabah started in 2002 with Kota Kinabalu as our first destination. At that time, we flew four times a week progressively increasing its frequency to four times daily. And now we connect Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu 11 times a day.

"In 2007, we celebrated our first international flight out of Kota Kinabalu to Shenzhen. Over the years, China routes have grown tremendously and now account for 48 per cent of all international routes from here," she said.

Within a short span, Aireen said, Kota Kinabalu has become the airline's second biggest hub in the country with 200 domestic flights and 94 international flights a week.

She said the airline has a total of six aircraft based here and had carried at least 3.5 million passengers into Sabah on an annual basis.

Caption: Masidi (fifth left) showing thumbs up together with Jonistion (third left), Aireen (fourth left), Kamarudin (fifth right), Irene (fourth right) and Fam (third right) during the launching of the airline's special livery 'Thank You Sabah'.



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