LANGKAWI: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is intensifying its efforts to improve airport network connectivity and promote inbound tourism into Langkawi, via the Langkawi International Airport (LGK).
MAHB group chief executive officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said the airport operator would continue to position Malaysia as a global aviation hub, backed by a double-digit growth of nearly 30 per cent for international passenger traffic movements at LGK last year.
He said this was the result of extensive efforts in promoting Langkawi as an attractive destination. MAHB today welcomed Malindo Air’s inaugural flight from Phuket to LGK.
“The new Phuket-Langkawi route brings the total number of destinations served from LGK to 18, seven of which are international destinations,” he said at a press conference after the welcoming reception of the inaugural Malindo Air flight.
He said it would operate three times weekly and was expected to present holiday makers with the opportunity to “island-hop” between the two countries.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Malaysia possessed inherent strengths with its strategic location within Asean, strong network connectivity in KLIA, and a low cost-base for airlines operations.
“We are also situated within the Asia Pacific region, which according to the International Air Travel Association, is expected to see global passenger growth of 4.6 per cent from 2016 to 2036, the third highest after Africa and the Middle East,” he said.
Loke said it was crucial for Malaysia to have high international flight frequencies with many international destinations to strengthen the country’s position as a hub.
“This is why we need to attract more foreign airlines to operate from within Malaysia, not only at KL International Airport but also at other international airports in the country,” he said.
Malindo Air chief executive officer Chandran Rama Muthy said the new connection would be convenient for travellers to fly from Phuket to Langkawi.
“Travellers can continue their adventure exploring the other partS of the Andaman sea by indulging themselves in the tropical paradise, culture heritage and duty-free island,” he said, adding that the airline had flown about half a million passengers to Langkawi since 2017.
With a fleet of 42 aircraft, comprising 29 Boeing 737 and 13 ATRs, Malindo Air flies to 56 destinations in 17 countries. The airline also expected to introduce new destinations, including Adelaide and Sydney in Australia, Da Nang in Vietnam and Central India.
He said Malindo Air was committed to promoting Langkawi to the world through its network, while growing more international tourist and passengers arrivals into Malaysia.
MAHB has also launched the Langkawi International Tourism Promotional Fund (LITPF) and unveiled Himpun, a showcase by local entrepreneurs of the best products.
LITPF is a RM5 million fund to facilitate the marketing and promotion of Langkawi as an attractive destination.
The programme will run for two years from June and will be made available to eligible industry players such as airlines, tour operators, travel agents and destination marketing companies.
MAHB also continued its initiative to create “a sense of Malaysia” at its airports, as part of the commercial reset strategy to raise the airports’ retail profile and improve airport experience for guests.
Himpun at LGK is a collaboration between Malaysia Airports and Malaysia Design Development Centre (DDEC) to showcase the best of Malaysian fashion, craft, delicacies and products to an international audience.
LGK is the first airport under MAHB to fully benefit from the commercial reset.
The newly spruced up airport was also seeing the introduction of internationally established brands such as Costa Coffee, Burger King, Charles and Keith, Plaza Premium Lounge and many more, as part of the commercial reset.