KOTA KINABALU: The state capital’s aim to be a major travel hub in the region is one step closer to reality.
Indonesia’s Batik Air has started direct flights from the Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) twice a week following the successful inaugural flight yesterday.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said that the new route would benefit both countries.
“We are happy to see yet another airline adding Kota Kinabalu as their destination after the consolidation of operations under one terminal back in 2015.
During the same period, BKI registered 2.3 million international passengers, a rise of 22.1% over the same period last year.
“We are glad to see this increase especially after our pledge in the last two years to further support the development of tourism in Sabah by intensifying efforts to promote the state as a destination.
“Tourism in Sabah is at its peak right now with each town offering fabulous local activities combining nature and culture.
“This new route introduced by Batik Air is timely for passengers from Indonesia to enjoy Sabah at its best,” he said.
Kota Kinabalu was chosen as Batik Air’s new destination as part of the airline’s plan to expand its international network.
Early this month, Batik Air started flying to two new Indonesian destinations, Silangit in North Sumatra and Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores in East Tenggara.
Batik Air president director Capt Achmad Luthfie said the new routes meet the high demand for tourism and business destinations.
He said based on the passenger load factor for the route, there was a high possibility for the flight frequency to increase to seven times per week.
“On top of that, Batik Air also plans to develop more new routes to Sabah and Sarawak such as Kuching,” Capt Achmad added.
Batik Air will use its fleet of Airbus A320 or Boeing 737-900 ER to operate the new route.
The airline currently serves more than 35 domestic destinations in Indonesia, as well as international locations such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Chennai and Perth.
They have a fleet of 51 aircraft that fly a total of 280 flights daily.
Source : The Star