KOTA KINABALU: The return of Royal Brunei Airlines to the state has now made it accessible for tourists not just from Brunei but also from other countries to get to Sabah.
Royal Brunei Airlines is the second foreign airline to resume direct flights to Kota Kinabalu, following Singapore’s low-cost carrier Scoot.
Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the return of foreign carriers is a great indication for the tourism and economy of Sabah.
“We are pleased to welcome the return of the Royal Brunei Airlines flight. The connectivity from Brunei will help with transiting international passengers, especially from routes that were previously in service from Australia, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Japan.
“Sabah is ready to accommodate tourists, and we hope that more foreign airlines will begin direct flights to Kota Kinabalu. With more direct flights from cities across the ASEAN region, we can expect an increase in visitors,” he said.
On Friday, Joniston welcomed passengers of the Royal Brunei Airlines at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
He was accompanied by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry Permanent Secretary Datuk Sr. Mohd Yusrie Abdullah; Sabah Tourism Board chief executive officer Noredah Othman; and Royal Brunei Airlines senior vice president passenger, cargo, and charter sales Christina Chua.
Christina said Kota Kinabalu is an important destination for Royal Brunei Airlines and that they hope to increase the frequency of flights in the near future.
“At the moment, we are flying to Kota Kinabalu two times a week. We plan to increase flight, bringing more tourists from Brunei to Sabah,” she said, adding it was a full flight on Friday, indicating Bruneians’ eagerness to travel.
The Royal Brunei Airlines Flight BI 825 carrying 150 passengers was greeted with a water cannon salute shortly after touching down at the airport at about 7.50pm.
Passengers were also gifted with a goodie bag, which include shopping vouchers, courtesy of the Sabah Tourism Board.
“Sabah Tourism is collaborating with Suria Sabah and Jesselton Duty Free to provide several discount vouchers to Bruneian travellers. We know that Bruneians love to shop and we are happy to welcome them back,” added Noredah.
Currently, Royal Brunei Airlines operates a 40-minute flight between Bandar Seri Begawan and Kota Kinabalu every Friday and Sunday.