Ketapi all for AirAsia move to Terminal 2
Published on: Friday, August 17, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Mohamaddin Ketapi is supportive of AirAsia's intention to return to Kota Kinabalu International Airport's Terminal 2, saying the move may serve the airline well due to space limitation at their present location at Terminal 1."Of course we support the move but they have to talk to Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB).

We support as they are our friends," he told reporters after launching AirAsia's Bangkok-Kota Kinabalu route, Thursday.

"It is probably a bit cheaper and more convenient for them because as you can see, the space is limited and AirAsia has got a lot of planes coming down here. So, they might as well be at Terminal 2.

Space is limited here," he said referring to the airline's present operation at Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Terminal 2 is located in Tanjung Aru.

AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Riad Asmat said by year-end the airline will have more aircraft but there are only 17 bays at the moment that it has to share with the other airlines.

"So we're very limited," he said.

On AirAsia's bid to return to Terminal 2, he said discussions were still ongoing with the State Government and MAB.

The low-cost airline recently announced its intention to return to Terminal 2 after being forced to move its operations to Terminal 1 few years ago.

AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes reportedly said the forced move has resulted in flat growth for the airline over the last two years.

AirAsia celebrated its maiden flight from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu, Thursday.

The unique route, which marks the first AirAsia Thailand's flight to East Malaysia, is a testament to AirAsia's commitment to further grow Kota Kinabalu hub.

The Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu direct route starts with three flights a week.

Mohamaddin Ketapi was on board the flight carrying 140 passengers that departed Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok earlier.

"With the addition of AirAsia Group's three-weekly flights from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu, we believe it will contribute to more tourist arrivals to Malaysia especially to East Malaysia.

"I am pleased that AirAsia Thailand has expanded its route to Sabah. Sabah definitely has a lot of attractive tourism offerings that appeal to Thai tourists," he said.

He acknowledged the airline's contribution in connecting the country beyond the region and to the tourism development in Sabah which saw an increase of 7.5 per cent tourist arrivals from 3.4 million in 2016 to 3.7 million in 2017.

"I hope industry players of both countries will work together with AirAsia Thailand to promote Malaysia and vice versa to ensure the sustainability of this route," he added. Welcoming his arrival was Deputy Chief Minister cum State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Christina Liew who said Bangkok is a very important hub to be linked to Sabah.

"It's one of AirAsia's busiest hubs that connects long haul destinations from USA, Europe, Russia, the Middle East as well as India.

"Besides the young Thai travelers who are food enthusiasts and keen adventurers, we will also be looking at attracting the expat community working for international organisations over there," she said.

Meanwhile, Riad said the airline hopes the new direct service between Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu will bring more positive impact, not just to the state's tourism and economic sector, but to the communities in Sabah as well.

He noted that AirAsia launched its first flight to Kota Kinabalu back in 2002, and has flown more than 39 million guests from and to the city since.

It has now connected Kota Kinabalu to 18 destinations across the region with 332 weekly flights, he added.

AirAsia Group currently flies from Kota Kinabalu to nine international destinations - Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Taipei - and eight domestic destinations - Kuala Lumpur, Tawau, Sandakan, Miri, Kuching, Penang, Kota Bharu and Johor Bahru.

AirAsia will also operate Kota Kinabalu-Macau route effective November this year. - Leonard Alaza


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