KOTA KINABALU: There is a high demand for airlines to serve Sabah.
Sabah Tourism Board chief executive officer Noredah Othman said as of October, the domestic market had reached over a million visitors.
"Domestic is our biggest market also for pre and post-pandemic. With the new airline, MYAirline, I think it gives everyone a chance to continue travelling to Sabah.
"We are happy that MYAirline has embarked on flying to Kota Kinabalu (KK). The competition is there but at least we can bring more Malaysians to visit Sabah, to help us, especially in the domestic market.
"In the future, we hope to strengthen our collaboration with MYAirline and introduce other destinations in the state," she said while stressing that being accessible to travellers is essential for the success of any tourist destination.
She added that the KK International Airport (KKIA) handled close to nine million passengers before the Covid-19 pandemic and was still the second busiest airport after Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Noredah was speaking to the press after MYAirline's inaugural flight officially touched down here today.
MYAirline director Datuk Abd Hamid Mohd Ali said the airline will operate one daily flight to Kuching and two daily flights to Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi with the Airbus A320-200 aircraft with a single class, 180-seat configuration.
He noted that the flight to KK recorded a load factor of over 80 per cent, showing encouraging demand for travel.
"The flight frequency will slowly be increased to accommodate increasing travel demands," he said, adding that MYAirline was giving more options to the passenger with competitive prices and they will also compete in terms of service quality.
He said MYAirline was planning to expand by opening more domestic routes by the first quarter of 2023 from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Baru, Penang and Sibu.
"As announced last week, the airline also has plans in the pipeline to fly to selected Asean destinations, connecting Malaysia to this region by the second quarter of 2023," he said.
Meanwhile in a statement, in line with the airline's commitment to achieve its sustainability goals, MYAirline said it was proud to be the first airline in the world to be fitted with light, innovative and ecofriendly seats.
"Manufactured in Italy, these ergonomically designed seats save approximately 800kg of weight which translates to fuel saving.
"Besides championing sustainability, the airline also places importance on airline safety measures and complies with the requirement on safety regulations set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) and has the professional capabilities to establish and maintain a system for aircraft operations," read the statement.