Monday, July 09, 2007

Penang, Langkawi want return of MAS direct flights

FIFTEEN months later, the effects of Malaysia Airlines' (MAS) cancellation of direct flights from London to Langkawi and London to Penang are still being felt by travel agents and hoteliers servicing the UK market.

Pacific World Destination East, destination manager for Penang and Langkawi, Ms Sadie Yeoh, said the company's leisure and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) markets to Penang and Langkawi have dropped by 40 per cent since the direct flights were stopped in March 2006.

She said: "Incentive planners are not keen on both destinations as there are no direct flights. They prefer convenience where they do not want to take a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur. The waiting time for a connecting flight to Langkawi or Penang is usually two or three hours."

The good news is the company will see an increase of incentive groups from Australia going to Penang in the first quarter next year. However, Ms Yeoh felt it was not enough to fill the void in the UK market.

Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel group managing director, Mr Anthony Wong, said his company had seen a 10 per cent drop in the UK incentive market to Langkawi. He added incentive planners were opting for Vietnam and Phuket over Langkawi as there were better hotel rates and air fares. Mr Wong said: "MAS air fares are not competitive and the hotel rates in Langkawi have also gone up this year."

Pelangi Beach & Spa Resort, Langkawi general manager, Mr Francois Sigrist, said he had noticed a 20 per cent drop due to tour operators opting for other destinations and Langkawi had lost some of its business to Phuket as there were direct flights to the Thai resort destination from London.

Source : TTG
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