25th June, 2012
Tan (6th left) poses with travel agents who participated in the familiarization trip to the Philippines. The Philippine Department of Tourism Marketing Representative, Malaysia, Melissa Ong is on 7th left.
KOTA KINABALU: The people in Sabah now have another option of exploring the Philippines with the launch of the Clark-Kota Kinabalu service by the South East Asian Airlines or SEAIR, the low-cost Philippine carrier based in Manila.
SEAIR launched the Clark to Kota Kinabalu flight on May 1 this year. It now flies from Clark to Kota Kinabalu on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“We now offer the lowest fares for as low as PHP 699 (RM52) for Clark to Kota Kinabalu and for as low as RM75 for Kota Kinabalu to Clark,” SEAIR’s Chief Operating Officer, Patrick Tan told New Sabah Times.
He said the response from the travelling public has been very encouraging.
“We started this route with a 100 per cent load factor. We invite Sabah tourists to try SEAIR and enjoy the lowest fares.
“Our target is to average more than 90 per cent load factor so that we can increase the flight frequency,” he said.
On SEAIR’s decision to launch the Clark to Kota Kinabalu flight, Tan said: “Kota Kinabalu is very near the Philippines. Looking at the windows of the airplane during the flight, when you see the tip of Palawan, Philippines in a few minutes the plane will be descending to land in Kota Kinabalu.
“In fact Manila, with its cosmopolitan shopping complexes, its great food choices and its religious/historical heritage, is the nearest big city to Kota Kinabalu, being nearer to Kota Kinabalu than Singapore or Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Tan also saw the airline’s decision to fly the Clark to Kota Kinabalu route as a strategic move.
“Kota Kinabalu is also the nearest international destination from the Philippines, and Filipinos would love to visit this city, a former British colony with European feel, and the unspoilt natural attractions of Sabah.
“There are also many Filipinos in Kota Kinabalu and the rest of Sabah. Because of these there are many people travelling between the Philippines and Kota Kinabalu,” he said.
When asked if SEAIR might increase its present thrice-weekly flights to Kota Kinabalu, Tan said: “Yes, we will increase frequency based on demand. We are looking at flying to new destinations in Sabah and the rest of Malaysia.”
He said SEAIR also strived to make it a more attractive choice for tourists from Sabah.
“SEAIR offers the lowest fares for flights between Kota Kinabalu and Clark. Right now our fares are half of the competitor. Our aircraft seating arrangement is more spacious has more leg room than other low cost carriers,” he said.
“We work hard to do well in our service to our passengers especially in the most important aspects such as on-time flights, high schedule reliability, aircraft being in top condition, a very clean cabin and through our friendly and smiling Cabin Attendants,” he added.
“We use new 144-seater Airbus A319 aircraft for the Clark to Kota Kinabalu route. This will be upgraded next month to new 180-seater Airbus A320 aircraft when our new Airbus A320’s arrive direct from Toulouse, France.
Tan said SEAIR also planned to operate in more cities in Malaysia and to introduce more regional routes from Clark and Manila.
“Presently, SEAIR flies from Clark to Kota Kinabalu, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Boracay via Kalibo. In less than two months, SEAIR will start flights from Manila to various cities and islands in the Philippines – Cebu, Davao, Tacloban, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Boracay via Kalibo and Bacolod.
“We invite tourists from Sabah to fly SEAIR and connect to regional destinations and Philippine islands for the lowest fares,” he said.
Tan also disclosed that SEAIR has a partnership with Singapore’s budget airline, Tiger Airways, to offer the lowest fares in its Kota Kinabalu to Clark route.
“SEAIR offers the lowest fares from Kota Kinabalu to Clark through our partnerships with media and agents, and mostly through online promotions. We encourage everyone to visit www.flyseair.com and website of our distribution partner www.tigerairways.com, and to SEAIR Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/flyseair for updates on promos,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Tourism recently invited the Sabah media and travel agents from Sabah and Sarawak for a familiarisation trip to Clark, Manila and Corregidor in the Philippines.
According to the Philippine Department of Tourism statistics, Malaysian tourists to the country registered an increase of 13.82 per cent or 32,363 arrivals during the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year.