MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) will reintroduce direct flights between Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Sandakan from February 18, with a frequency of 11 flights a week.
The reinstated service fills a void created when MAS axed its subsidiary Firefly’s flights between the two points on December 4 (TTG Asia e-Daily, October 21, 2011), leaving AirAsia as the sole carrier on the route.
MAS explained in a statement that the service was reintroduced due to strong demand for premium direct full-service connectivity between Sabah’s second largest city and the KLIA main terminal, and would provide much needed links to MAS’ international destinations.
Borneo Trails Tours & Travel general manager, Tan Kok Liang, said: “Sandakan is popular with the UK, Europe and Australian markets. Now these tourists can fly all the way through to Sandakan via KLIA. Transiting through Kota Kinabalu incurs more time.”
“Using AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan is also not an option because of the need to change airports from KLIA to the LCCT (low cost carrier terminal), and the different flight timings,” he added.
Perceived fare differences between MAS and the less expensive Firefly would not be an issue, said Sandakan-based Sepilok Tropical Wildlife Adventure sales & marketing manager, Jessie Chin.
“Firstly, MAS also gives good offers. Secondly, European tourists are more comfortable travelling on MAS,” she explained.
By N. Nithiyananthan