Far Eastern Air to operate flights to Malaysian cities

By Kevin Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Feb 26, 2007 - Page 12

Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT, 遠東航空) last week signed a special charter flights program agreement with Sanbumi Air Transport Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur, aiming to fly about 1,000 passengers per month from Taiwan to Malaysia.

The new partnership will provide six flights per month with about 150 passengers per flight, Malaysia's Daily Express said on its Web site on Saturday.

Faced with a shrinking domestic market and the launch of the high speed rail service last month, Far Eastern Air, the nation's largest domestic carrier by market share, has been expanding its overseas routes to improve its bottomline.

While domestic air carriers have agreed to operate the Taipei-Kaohsiung and Taipei-Tainan routes to save costs, Mandarin Airlines (華信航空), a subsidiary of China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), announced earlier this month it planned to halt flights between Taipei and Taichung effective next month to narrow its widening losses.

Sanbumi Air is a subsidiary of Sanbumi Holdings Bhd, an investment holding company whose core businesses include lumber and building supplies.

Citing Sanbumi Holdings chairman Datuk Noorazman Adnan, the Daily Express said the deal with FAT would allow foreign tourists to make their way to Malaysia via charter flights using FAT aircraft, facilities, crew and expertise.

"SAT's partnership with FAT opens the way for greater accessibility to Malaysia," the report quoted Noorazman as saying.

Sanbumi will service flights to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Kuantan, Langkawi and Terengganu, it said.

FAT marketing vice president Rafael Fang (方南海) represented the company at the signing ceremony on Friday, while general manager Low Yuh Wen did the same for Sanbumi, the Malaysian news agency Bernama reported on its Web site.

Also in attendance was Malaysian Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who said that with the agreement, added to the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 promotional activities, the tourism ministry hoped to increase the number of Taiwanese tourists to 400,000 this year.