Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) celebrated the launch of its inaugural flight to Sandakan city at Sandakan Airport in Sabah yesterday.
Member of Parliament of Sandakan Vivian Wong Shir Yee was the guest of honour.
General Manager of Sabah Tourism Noredah binti Othman, President of Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) Teo Chee Kim, Senior Manager of Routes Development for Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad Zainuddin Mohamed and Vice President of Government and International Relations of RB Rory llyas Teo were also present.
Attended by guests and media, the event was hosted by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad in partnership with the Sabah Tourism Board and Sandakan Tourism Association.
“We are very proud to be the first international airline to fly to the city of Sandakan. The Malaysian state of Sabah is already one of our most popular destinations with double daily flights to Kota Kinabalu from Brunei, our hub airport and connections from our international network,” said Rory llyas Teo.
“We are delighted to introduce Sandakan as our next destination city in Phase One of the RB Link regional initiative connecting cities within Borneo Island. Sandakan will not only benefit from our value pricing and five-star full service product, it now has connections to many international markets such as China, Japan, the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia which offers great tourism and export opportunities.”
Group Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad Raja Azmi bin Raja Nazuddin, meanwhile, said, “We are delighted to welcome Royal Brunei Airlines operating the first commercial scheduled flight to Sandakan Airport.
“From January to August this year, Sandakan Airport recorded a 12 per cent increase in passenger movements as compared to 2018. With this new international route for Sandakan, it will further intensify the growing demands between these two destinations.
“I am confident the airline is poised to capitalise on the demand of both leisure and business traffic for this sector and subsequently contribute to Sabah’s overall development.”
Noredah said, “Bruneians are frequent visitors to Sabah, mainly in the areas of Kota Kinabalu, Ranau and Kota Belud. Now, they will have even better ease of exploring the East coast of Sabah.
“Besides being beneficial to the local community of Brunei, the RB Link’s seamless booking is a great enhancement to connectivity from long haul destinations such as the UK and Australia to Sandakan.
“It is timely as well, as Sandakan will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Sandakan Death Marches in August 2020, and we would like to encourage more British and Australians to gather here in remembrance of this history.”
Teo Chee Kim said, “We are absolutely delighted at the introduction of the Brunei-Sandakan route by RB Link, which is the first international route for Sandakan.
“We always believe that better flight connection is the key to develop further our tourism industry, and the arrival of RB Link is a huge step forward for all of us here in Sandakan.
“All tourism stakeholders in Sandakan should seize this opportunity to promote and market Sandakan to Brunei and beyond, especially to the European and Australian market.”
RB Link flights provide guests with a full-service experience, including a light snack and drink service (for flights over one hour), and checked baggage allowance of 15kg or, for connecting guests, weight in-line with international fare rules (starting from 30kg in Economy class).
The aircraft can accommodate 72 all economy class seats with four preferred seats on a 43-inch seat pitch and six preferred seats with 33-inch seat pitch. Guests onboard will enjoy RB’s signature service, Muhibah in-flight magazine, and are able to use their personal electronic devices for entertainment.
The first flight arrived at Sandakan Airport at 2.35pm and was welcome with a water cannon salute yesterday.
The six times weekly flight to Sandakan will be once daily Fridays to Wednesdays from October 28 this year; followed by new destination cities to Bintulu flying five times weekly from November 5; Tawau daily on Wednesdays through Mondays from November 11; and Sibu flying twice on Saturdays, plus once a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from November 14.
Flights to and from Bandar Seri Begawan and Sandakan began its operation yesterday with the brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft operated by Malindo Air.