Tuesday, November 18, 2008

AirAsia urged to look into KL-Tashkent route

Budget carrier AirAsia has been urged to look into the viability of providing a direct air link between Kuala Lumpur and Tashkent.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he had conveyed this to AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes who has agreed to consider this.

“I told Datuk Tony Fernandez of the opportunities here and he said AisAsia would study this immediately. It will be good if a Malaysian carrier can also provide air services to this part of the world.

“Also, since AirAsia is a low cost carrier, it will be easeir for them to start the service,” he told Malaysian reporters at the sidelines of his three-day official visit to Uzbekistan.

In his talks with President Islam Karimov earlier, the Uzbekistan leader had requested the Malaysian Government consider providing air sercices to Tashkent.

At pesent, the only direct link between the both capitals was provided by Uzbekistan Airways. It has been flying twice weekly between both cities since 1996.

Abdullah said both countries could also expand on economic and tourism activities if there was a direct air service between both countries.

“Since Uzbekistan is a land locked nation, it would be good if we could have more flights to increase the movement of people and goods,” he said.

He said although bilateral trade between both countries has increased from RM90mil in 2006 to RM130mil in the first nine months of this year, this was relatively small.

Abdullah said it was also important that another air service was provided to enable more Malaysians, particularly Muslims, to visit Islamic historical sites here. Among these are the ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent which were important Islamic civilisations.

Also located here are the mausoleums of famous Muslim scholars such as Imam Bukhari, Ibnu Sina, Al Termizi and Bibihanoum.

Asked why several memoranda of understanding signed between both countries in 2005 had yet to take off, Abdullah said Uzbekistan, a former republic under the Soviet Union, was a young nation which was still in the midst of introducing reforms.

“They are conducting reforms but this is taking some time. They are liberalising several aspects of the economy and administration and once this is done, I am sure it will be a conducive place to do business,” he said.

Abdullah said Karimov also praised Malaysian oil company Petronas which has been carrying out extensive oil and gas exploration projects in the country’s four regions.

“Petronas has also set up joint ventures with companies from other countries and has been doing a tremendous job.. He told me that the government was considering giving more concessions to Petronas as it has proven to be a worthy and credible investor,” he said.

He said Malaysia was also prepared to take in more students from Uzbekistan to pursue tertiary education. At present, there were some 70 students from here studying in Malaysia.

Abdullah, his wife Datin Seri Datin Jeanne Abdullah and the members of his delegation would leave for Turkmenistan on Wednesday for a two-day official visit to the former Soviet republic.

Source : STAR
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