Senai International Airport A Gateway For Tourists From China31 May 2016, by THE MALAYSIAN RESERVE

With the new route to Guangzhou, China, the Johor-based airport has made Johoreans travelling to China significantly more convenient.
With the new route to Guangzhou, China, the Johor-based airport has made Johoreans travelling to China significantly more convenient.

Senai International Airport is poised to become a new gateway for China tourists into Malaysia.

With the inaugural flight from the Johor-based airport to Guangzhou, China, via AirAsia starting May 29, the city is set to become a choice entry point for the growing number of tourists from China.

“With the ongoing development in Iskandar Malaysia, there has been a lot of demand for air travel between Johor and certain parts of China. As such, we believe that the new Johor Baru (JB)-Guangzhou route will be a success,” said Senai Airport Terminal Services Bhd (SATS) CEO Md Derick Basir.

Malaysia was ranked among the top 10 destinations for Chinese tourists organised by travel agencies in the first-quarter of 2015, according to outbound tourism statistics from China Tourism Research Institute, quoted by TravelChina’s website.

Md Derick said the rapid development in JB, especially in the Iskandar Malaysia region, has been a catalyst for Senai to be an attraction to China tourists visiting the southern Peninsular Malaysia.

“We had been exploring the possibi- lity of starting a JB-China route with a few parties and AirAsia was the first airline to act on the opportunity. Now, the people of Johor can travel to China more conveniently than before.

“Previously, they had to travel to KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2) to fly to China. With the new daily flights between Johor and Guangzhou by AirAsia, Johoreans need not do so anymore,” he said.

AirAsia Bhd commercial head Spencer Lee said: “Our southern hub of JB is one of the key development points for us this year, and we are pleased to be connecting the rapidly developing Johor Baru to Guangzhou.”

Johor state exco of tourism, trade and consumer Datuk Tee Siew Kiong describes the move as timely as there has been an increase in tourists, business travellers and investors from China especially from Guangzhou to JB lately.

“This initiative brings both cities closer, and will help to boost the 
cooperation between JB and Guangzhou especially in tourism, trade and investment. Furthermore, the e-visa entry which was implemented by the government last March has made it much more convenient for Chinese visitors to enter Malaysia,” Tee said.

According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Senai International Airport, the sixth-largest airport in Malaysia and the only airport that is not part of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, grew faster than nearly every other Malaysian airport in 2015.

It handled 2.6 million passengers in 2015, representing a growth of 11% compared to 2014. Domestic passenger traffic was up to 2.3 million, while international traffic was up 19% to 301,000.

“The passenger numbers are growing. In 2016, we have two additional international routes flying straight from JB,” Md Derick told The Malaysian Reserve.

Aside from Guangzhou, since April this year, Thai AirAsia has introduced flights from Hat Yai to JB, making this the sixth international route into the airport.

Additionally, Md Derick said SATS is currently engaged in talks with se- veral airline operators and offers are given for them to start operations at the airport.

“We are also working hand in hand with Johor Tourism and Tourism Malaysia in promoting the routes and we are seeing a positive sign in making Senai International Airport as the next hub for travellers after KLIA,” he said.