MELAKA (July 1): Low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd (AirAsia) aims to offer more routes from the Melaka International Airport (LTAM) in addition to the direct flight between it and Penang launched today, said chief executive officer Riad Asmat.
He said this long-term goal would, however, hinge on passenger demand for the new routes and the cooperation of various parties, including the Melaka state government, in promoting the routes.
According to him, Melaka is one of the two most popular destinations among foreign passengers flying on the airline other than Penang, as both states share a few similarities in terms of culture and history that are recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and serve as the main attractions for tourists.
“In terms of new destinations via LTAM, there are many potential locations in the long term but we will do studies before finalising them. This will take three to six months.
“We believe Melaka itself has potential. Ticket sales recorded for the two-way flights between Melaka and Penang launched today were encouraging with more than 90 per cent of seats taken up,” he told reporters after the welcoming ceremony for the inaugural Melaka-Penang-Melaka flight at LTAM today witnessed by Chief Minister Adly Zahari.
The maiden flight, which used an Airbus A320 to ferry 175 passengers, left the Penang International Airport at 1.20pm and landed at LTAM at 2.25 pm.
Riad said the launch of the route would not only help boost the local tourism industry but also contribute towards the long-term economic growth of the two Unesco World Heritage sites.
“Through the route, the people of Melaka who want to fly to Sabah and Sarawak or other destinations in ASEAN can take the appropriate flights via our hub in Penang. Melaka is AirAsia's sixth domestic destination in AirAsia and this marks the 14th route from our Penang hub," he said.
The daily direct flights, which depart from Penang to Melaka at 1.20pm and from Melaka to Penang at 2.50pm priced, are priced at RM79 for one-way travel.
Meanwhile, Adly said the new AirAsia flight at LTAM would help the state government in ensuring the airport function at an optimal level and be of service to the people.
He said it would contribute to the growth in tourists visiting Melaka, help to promote the state as one of Asia's leading destinations and give a boost to Visit Melaka Year 2019.
“In the first quarter of this year, Melaka welcomed 4.79 million tourists, comprising 3.41 million local tourists and 1.38 million foreign tourists. With the latest service offered by AirAsia, we are confident of achieving the target of 20 million tourists visiting Melaka this year,” he said. — Bernama