By Shalina R
Pictures by Victor Lo
Malindo Air soared into Kota Kinabalu City's open skies and landed safely at its international airport from KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) recently on March 22. The nation's first hybrid airline will be the third local carrier operating flights into Sabah, joining existing carriers Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia.
"We are very excited as today marks our first operational flight," said Malindo Air (MA) CEO Chandran Rama Muthy during Malindo Air's Inaugural Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu Flight Press Conference held at the KKIA's Terminal One yesterday.
"At the moment, we operate 3 flights daily into the city and will soon mount it to at least 8 departures from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu daily," he added.
Plans to gradually increase Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu bound flights is targetted to be fulfilled by the end of 2013. Using brand new Boeing 737-900 Extended Range aircrafts that operates in a two-class configuration with a full load capacity of 180 seats, MA will be able to bring in about 10,000 passengers on a weekly basis by then.
Chandran also unveiled their next domestic route, between Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu, due to be opened by end of the year to the present media.
"This is just the beginning. We are here, we are committed and we will grow," said the MA CEO. "We are confident on Kota Kinabalu as our transit hub as it is very popular with the domestic as well as the international passengers. This is due to the good job done by the ministry of tourism in promoting the state."
As the sister company to Indonesia's Lion Air, MA has a vast network of Indonesian routes within their grasp. Chandran plans to leverage on their ability to bring passengers from cities like Sulawesi's Makassar and Manado City. He revealed MA's plan to utilize Kota Kinabalu's strategic location as the connecting point between cities in Indonesia and other countries in the region such as Korea, Japan and China.
"This is in our 2-year plan and it will result in better flight connections, shorter travel time and it will also bring the fares down."
Formed in collaboration between Malaysia's NADI (National Aerospace and Defence Industries) and Indonesia's privately owned Lion Group, Malindo Air offers attractive all inclusive fares starting from RM68.00 per sector between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.
Not just another low cost carrier, the airline's aircrafts are equipped with personal Inflight Entertainment System in each passenger seats that boasts of extra legroom. The airfare also includes free baggage allowance and meals served during the flights. - Insight Sabah