LABUAN – Labuan Airport is capable of handling large aircraft including the Airbus A330 family, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) managing director, Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said.
Speaking to Bernama after a Townhall session with Labuan Airport personnel here Tuesday, Badlisham said MAHB also welcomes any initiatives (like charter flights), when asked on plans by Labuan Tourism to bring in direct charter flights from China.
“We We have been in discussions with both Labuan and the Ministry of Federal Territories leaders to increase direct flights and charter flights into the island.
“The immigration personnel at Labuan Airport are ready to accept international passengers and we are also prepared to look at the operation hour for more flights at the airport.
“I was informed there was an announcement by the Labuan Member of Parliament (Datuk Rozman Isli) that a carrier was given an air operator certificate to operate charter flight from China to Labuan,” he said.
“But, we may look at a slightly smaller aircraft for a start. For example, we have a special charter flight from China to Melaka on a smaller A319 aircraft. As for the charter flight to Labuan, we may start with the Boeing 737,” he added.
Badlisham said the Labuan Airport runway was built under Code 4E that could accommodate Airbus A330.
On another matter, he revealed that Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) contributing the highest number of passengers handled in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2015.
He said the increase surpassed the traffic volume target of 2.5 per cent, with airlines such as Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Malindo Air adding new services, coupled with the consolidation of Terminal 2 in Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu this year into a single terminal at KKIA.
The number of passengers using MAHB’s second busiest airport had soared to more than six million, Badlisham said.
“For the first nine months of 2016, passenger traffic has tremendously improved … Sabah can be proud of the growth in passenger traffic passing through KKIA. We saw a very big jump in passenger traffic with impressive international arrivals into this fastest growing airport,” he said.
“Air travel is no longer a luxury but an option and convenience for people at large. We see a slight increase in both international and domestic traffic.
“Carriers like Turkish Airlines and Emirates Airlines have increased their frequencies and aircraft size while others have come back into Malaysia,” he said.
He said the Zika virus outbreak had not given any impact to the passenger traffic across the region.