Finnair will be flying direct from Helsinki to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) beginning May 21 next year, making it the first airlines from the Scandinavian countries to do so, Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy told Bernama news agency. Finnair would be flying three times a week to KLIA with the option of increasing the frequencies should there be good demand for the route in the future, he said.
“Right now, we have a pact with Finland under the Air Services Agreement (ASA) signed between Malaysia and Finland in 1997 whereby Finnair would be able to increase their frequencies by up to seven flights a week or have daily flights,” he said.
Chan said this to Malaysian journalists after his meeting with the President and Chief Operating Officer of Finnair, Jukka Hienonen in Helsinki last week.
During the meeting, Chan gave an assurance to Hienonen that the Malaysian government together with the Civil Aviation Authority and Malaysia Airlines (MAS), who is their ground handling agent in KLIA—would give their support to Finnair.
“This is a major breakthrough (in having a Scandinavian airlines ) flying to KLIA,” he said.
With Finnair, the number of foreign airlines flying to KLIA would increase. Currently there are 50 foreign airlines flying to KLIA.
Chan is in Finland for a two-day official visit beginning Sept 21 where he held discussions with Finland’s Vice-Minister for Transport, Harri Pursiainen.
During the meeting, both sides agreed to explore the possibility of having an open sky agreement between them.
Malaysia already has numerous open sky agreements with several countries—such as the United States, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Sweden.
“I don’t see any reason why we cannot have an open sky agreement (with Finland). We also agreed that officials from both ministries of transport would find a date to meet to discuss details of the agreement,” he said.
Finnair’s decision to fly to KLIA comes hot on the heels of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB)‘s success in persuading two international airlines—Kuwait Airlines and Cebu Pacific—to fly into KLIA by November this year.
MAHB manages 39 airports in the country.
MAB is also holding discussions with at least with three new airlines—Ethihad Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Hainan Airlines—to fly into KLIA next year.
Although this year may see only two new carriers flying into KLIA, he said that last year, seven airlines made their way to KLIA.
They include India’s Jet Airways, the return of Pakistan International Airlines, Thai AirAsia, PT Awair, Thai Sky Airlines, Air Nepal International and Shenzhen Airlines.
Last year, KLIA handled 23 million passengers with passenger traffic expected to increase by five per cent this year.