| James Kon |
TRAVELLERS using Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) can now fly direct to Brisbane, Australia after the national carrier resumed its non-stop service to the city following a launch ceremony at the Collaboration Hub, RB Campus yesterday.
The four-times-weekly flights to Brisbane will be operated using RB’s new fleet of A320neo aircraft.
Flights from Brunei to Brisbane will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, while flights from Brisbane to Brunei will be made on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Present at the launch as guest of honour was Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II and Chairman of RB Board of Directors Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah. Also in attendance were Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin, members of the RB Board of Directors; government officials and local travel agents.
“RB’s transformation as the national airline and its expansion in new markets continues today with the addition of direct flights to Brisbane,” said Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew in his address.
“As a shareholder, Darussalam Assets endeavours to build a sustainable foundation to spur economic vitality in harmony with nation-building objectives. Connecting Brunei with Brisbane will no doubt be a catalyst for increased travel, trade and tourism and will benefit not only consumers, but the nation as a whole.”
The minister also highlighted the recent launch of a number of new destinations by RB, such as Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, Kuching and several cities in China, noting that this new route network allows the carrier “to create an attractive alternative hub in Southeast Asia”.
RB CEO Karam Chand, added, “The resumption of the Brunei-Brisbane flights is a very significant milestone that we are incredibly proud of. Brisbane was the second Australian city that RB flew to in 1994 via Darwin, followed by direct flights in 1997. In 2011, the Brisbane services were suspended due to the very challenging trading environment.
“However, we continued to see our guests travel to/from Brisbane via Melbourne, our other Australian service. With the growth in tourism and continued strong interest, we are today resuming our services”.
The flight BI009 to Brisbane departed Bandar Seri Begawan at 6.50pm last night and landed in Brisbane at 03.45am today.
Chand said the new direct flights to Brisbane will convenience RB’s customers and deepen the bilateral relationship between Brunei and Australia.
“We are confident the new route will also play a key role in enabling the country’s economic diversification strategy in line with Brunei Vision 2035, and be the catalyst for tourism and trade opportunities that will benefit all stakeholders in the industry,” he continued.
“Serving Brisbane will strategically position RB as a key player on the ‘kangaroo route’ in the important UK-Australia market. Coupled with our daily non-stop route between London Heathrow and Brunei, it allows us to open an entirely different part of Australia to our guests in addition to our daily Melbourne flight, which is already very popular,” Chan said.
RB has aligned its business plans to support Brunei’s economic diversification strategy in line with Brunei Vision 2035.
Last year was a record year for the country in terms tourism, with visitor arrivals via air growing 7.4 per cent year-on-year from 258,955 in 2017, to 278,136 visitors in 2018. In 2018, the number of tourist arrivals from Australia increased by 12.8 per cent.
The resumption of RB’s direct flights to the third largest city in Australia is projected to boost visitor numbers from Australia to Brunei further and help the airline achieve the national objective of delivering 500,000 visitors to our shores by 2021.
A celebration dinner will be hosted in Brisbane at the Brisbane City Hall tonight to commemorate the reinstatement of the Brunei-Brisbane service. High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to Australia Zakaria Ahmad will attend as guest of honour alongside other guests from Brisbane Airport Corporation and representatives of Brisbane travel agencies.