KUCHING: Hong Kong Airlines’ inaugural flight to this city from Hong Kong touched down at Kuching International Airport (KIA) at 5.30am yesterday.
Upon arrival, the plane was greeted with the aviation industry’s ‘water salute’ while taxiing into the parking apron.
The maiden flight took three hours 30 minutes departing from Hong Kong International Airport at 1.55am, with the return flight at 6.20am and arriving at Hong Kong at 9.55am.
On hand to receive passengers and aircraft crew members upon stepping out from the aircraft were permanent secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and chief excutive officer of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd general manager (marketing) Mohamed Sallauddin Mat Sah.
The maiden Hong Kong Airlines flight HX715 with more than 80 passengers was given a Sarawak traditional welcome with the cultural troupe garlanding passengers with Sarawak beads and goodie bags distributed upon their disembarkation from the aircraft.
Passengers were greeted at the arrival hall with a fanfare from the Twin Lions group and hadrah performers from Kampung Boyan.
Following the inaugural flight, the twice-weekly schedule will be every Wednesday and Saturday.
Ik Pahon expressed confidence that this would be the beginning of the much awaited results from the board’s marketing direction. He said the inaugural flight had been long awaited with talks and engagements with the relevant airline since the state hosted Routes Asia 2014.
“For the past several years, we have invested in the market and will continue to work on the state’s accessibility into North Asia with the aim of creating a new ‘hub’ to tap into the Greater China, neighbouring Japan and Korea markets,” he said.
Benedict Jimbau, who is STB marketing director, said the inaugural flight made it into the state’s tourism calendar and should give the local tourism industry a boost in terms of visitor arrival, especially from China and other North Asian countries.