Travel to Kota Kinabalu cut due to new flights
DAVAO CITY—The three-hour travel time to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia from Puerto Princesa in Palawan has been effectively cut by more than two hours with the recent start of flights provided by MASwings Sdn. Bhd.
MASwings is a regional airline company that operates the Rural Air Services in East Malaysia. It took over the RAS previously operated by FlyAsianXpress.
The launching of the air service for the route was part of efforts to further strengthen the air connectivity between key tourism areas in the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga), according to the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda).
In a statement, Minda says the direct flights between Puerto Princesa and Kota Kinabalu will be handled by a 68-passenger capacity ATR 72-500 aircraft and is tentatively scheduled on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Friday’s maiden flight had 64 passengers, including several Malaysian state ministers, hotel owners, travel agency operators and journalists.
The opening of the route has significantly shortened travel hours from Kota Kinabalu to Puerto Princesa and vice-versa, officials say.
“Prior to this route’s launch, a passenger from Puerto Princesa has to take a flight to Manila to reach Kota Kinabalu,” Michie Meneses, Puerto Princesa tourism officer, was quoted in the Minda statement as saying.
“The usual route of passing through Manila will take more than three hours excluding vessel and terminal transfers,” she said.
Meneses added that aside from cutting travel time, the opening of the air service also cut costs and would eventually boost tourism exchange between the two cities.
“The direct flight will only take about an hour and 40 minutes,” she said.
Luwalhati Antonino, Minda chair, said the initiative was aimed at facilitating cheaper and faster movement of goods and travelers as part of the BIMP-Eaga cooperation.
“We hope to see more of these efforts in the coming years,” she added.
The governments of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines formed Eaga in 1994 “to accelerate economic development in focus areas, which, although geographically distant from their national capitals, are in strategic proximity to each other.”
Among the agreements signed was on expansion of air linkages, which was aimed at promoting and enhancing trade, investment, tourism, and cultural exchange in the sub-region.
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