A milestone for humble airfield
After celebrating 500 years of Portuguese culture recently, Malacca is looking to create excitement on a new front tomorrow, at 11.11am, to be precise. JASON GERALD JOHN reports
11.11AM on 11-11 is the scheduled time and date of departure for Melaka Air’s maiden flight to Medan. The flight will depart for Medan via Penang from Melaka International Airport (MIA) where a RM131 million runway extension was completed last year.
Aligning numbers is just one component of a sound business strategy.
Around 70,000 foreigners seek medical treatment in Malacca annually, and the state economic planners are all for flying them into the state directly without having to go through Kuala Lumpur International Airport or the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang, Selangor.
And the number is just 0.1 per cent of the seven million middle-class population in Sumatra, Indonesia.
“With the new Melaka International Airport, we hope more patients from Sumatra will come here,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.
The airport was formerly known as Batu Berendam Airport.
Emphasising the Sumatra angle, four of the seven Melaka Air des – tinations are on the Indonesian island — Medan, Pekan Baru, Padang and Palembang.
The others are Penang and Kota Baru in Malaysia, and Hat Yai in Thailand.
Melaka Air is a joint-venture between Kuala Lumpur-based NN Flyers and the state-owned Melaka Foundation, with a paid-up capital of RM20 million.
The sole airline using the airport until now was Wings Air, which had been operating three weekly flights from Pekan Baru to Malacca since last year.
The airport handled 21,687 passengers last year. According to Wings Air representative Ridho Kosasih, around 80 per cent of the passengers travelling on his airline that year were Indonesians seeking medical treatment in the historical city.
Melaka Air will be using AT R – 7 2 turboprops, which are loaned from FireFly at a cost of US$190,000 (RM570,000).
Malacca, which is listed as a United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage City, saw the arrival of 10.4 million tourists last year. This figure is expected to jump to 11 million by year-end.
Tunku’s historic arrival THE airport in Malacca is wellknown for receiving histor ic flights.
Fifty-five years ago, on Feb 20, 1956, the Merdeka Mission led by Tunku Abdul Rahman landed at Batu Berendam Airport (now renamed Melaka International Airport).
They had just arrived from London via Singapore, and a teeming crowd had gathered at Banda Hilir to listen to Tunku’s historic announcement.
Tunku, travelling from the airport in a Morris Minor, later announced that the Merdeka Agreement had been signed on Feb 8, 1956, and that the country would achieve independence on Aug 31, 1957, to shouts of Merdeka from the crowd.
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