Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Malaysia Airlines Suffers Heavy Losses In 2011 On Higher Fuel Cost & Provisions

Feb 29, 2012

4th Quarter 2011 ended 31 December 2011

Group Revenue: RM3.68 billion

Group Expenditure: RM4.99 billion

Net Loss: RM1.28 billion

Capacity (ASK) up 1%; Traffic (RPK) down 6%; Seat Factor down to 72.5%


Financial Year 2011 ended 31 December 2011

Group Revenue: RM13.90 billion

Group Expenditure: RM16.20 billion

Net Loss: RM2.52 billion

Capacity (ASK) up 7%; Traffic (RPK) up 5%; Seat Factor down to 75%


Subang, Wednesday, 29 February 2012: Malaysia Airlines today reported an unaudited net loss of RM1.28 billion for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2011, bringing the Group’s full year results to a net loss of RM2.52 billion for the financial year ended 31 December 2011 on the back of a marginal increase in Group revenue (up 2% to RM13.90 billion) and carrying 1.3 million more passengers (totalling 17 million) compared to the previous year.

“The bottom-line Group losses for 2011 underscore the imperative need for Malaysia Airlines to immediately adopt strong measures to stop the bleeding. These include staff redeployment, increasing productivity and efficiency, relentless cost control and making further route reviews. We are also implementing an aggressive sales & marketing strategy”, said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer.

“The accounts for the year under review recognise provisions and escalating operational costs which although painful, gives us a holistic snapshot of the organisation. With full knowledge of our actual position, we will be better prepared to move forward,” added Ahmad Jauhari. 

The Group’s full year performance was severely impacted by a 21% increase in expenditure over the previous year (2011: RM16.20 billion versus 2010: RM13.41 billion) attributed to a 33% year-on-year increase in fuel cost (2011: RM5.85 billion versus 2010: RM4.38 billion) and a 15% increase in non-fuel expenses (2011: RM10.43 billion versus 2010: RM9.03 billion).

The increase in non-fuel expenses were mainly due to provisions totalling RM1.09 billion made in the fourth quarter for stock obsolescence, redelivery of aircraft and impairment of freighter aircraft.

For the full year, Malaysia Airlines saw capacity (Available Seat per Kilometre) increase by 7%, passenger traffic up 5% but a lower seat factor to 75%. Revenue per ASK (RASK) rose 2% to 18.5 sen per km whilst yield improved 4% to 24.7 sen compared to the previous year.

Revenue and average fares across all classes showed improvement throughout the year, particularly in the front-end cabins. However, there was an overall drop in seat factor as the airline strived for better yields. On a regional performance basis, the domestic and short-haul, intra-Asean services continued to be key markets for the Company, with these segments reporting positive growth on a quarterly as well as on a year to-date basis.

The cargo division suffered in line with an overall slowdown of the industry globally. Revenue dropped 14%, capacity decreased 9% whilst yield increased 2%. MASkargo recorded a loss before tax of RM19 million in 2011 compared to a profit of RM141million in the previous year due to higher fuel costs and impairment of its A330 freighter fleet.


For the year under review, several major provisions were made. Malaysia Airlines’ plan to return 58 aircraft to lessors is expected to cost the Company approximately RM1.03 billion. It has so far provided RM431 million, thereby necessitating an additional provision of RM602 million. The other provisions included RM179 million for additional provision for engineering stock obsolescence and RM314 million for aircraft impairment relating to its cargo fleet.

Earlier in 2008 and 2010, Malaysia Airlines had placed firm orders for a total of 50 aircraft plus options for an additional 30 aircraft to be delivered from 2010 to 2017. In 2011, MAS had exercised 10 of those options. The Company has a current fleet of 91 aircraft with an average fleet age of 12.2 years and in 2012, Malaysia Airlines will be taking delivery of another 23 new aircraft.

According to Ahmad Jauhari, “The recent rationalised network plan that we will operate has resulted in a surplus fleet. An additional provision of RM602 million has been made for aircraft redelivery to enable Malaysia Airlines to retire and return 58 aircraft from now up to 2014. The bulk of these will take place in 2012 comprising the older uneconomical 18-19 year old aircraft. By the end of 2012, our fleet size will be 80 aircraft with an average fleet age of 7.7 years.”

With the incoming fleet, a thorough review had been carried out on spares resulting in an additional provision for impairment and obsolescence of aircraft spares amounting to RM179 million.

The Group’s cargo business was also impacted by the current weakness in the global air freight business. This year MASkargo will be having a fleet of 6 dedicated wide-body freighters including 4 new A330-200F. As a result of the new A330 Freighters, our freighter tonnage lifting capacity will increase by 5%. In view of the losses at MASkargo and the recent announcement by Airbus to develop the A330 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) conversion programme which will depress the value of new freighters, Malaysia Airlines has decided to make a provision of RM314 million for impairment of freighter aircraft value.

With stubbornly high fuel prices and with weak global demand for cargo, the Group continues to explore options including joint ventures and/or strategic alliances for MASkargo.

Going Forward

The outlook for 2012 remains challenging for the global aviation sector with both passenger and cargo segments expected to remain weak coupled with rising fuel costs. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects continued cautious business sentiment globally.

Given its financial performance in 2011, Malaysia Airlines is currently finalising a plan to strengthen its Balance Sheet to increase its cash reserves and funding capacity. The plan includes, but not limited to, debt and/or equity market options. Khazanah Nasional and Tune Air, the two largest shareholders, are supportive of these initiatives. The Company will make further announcements once the funding plan is finalized.

With the funding plan in place, the Group will further progress the implementation of initiatives outlined in its Business Plan announced in December 2011. The Company is confident in meeting the challenges above.

In summing up, the Chairman of Malaysia Airlines, Tan Sri Md Nor Md Yusof said: “The Results make for unpleasant reading. The Company is in crisis. The Board and I remain confident that we now have a team and Business Plan in place that will bring the necessary sacrifices to ensure a turnaround and recovery. And lastly, I am grateful to note the unwavering support of our major shareholders, Khazanah and Tune Air, for our steps moving forward.”

-Malaysia Airlines.

New SCB boss Cannon clocks in for work in April

KUCHING: Mike Cannon will be clocking in for work as managing director of the Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) in April.

The current Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) executive director said in a SCB press release yesterday that his new ap-pointment was a welcome surprise after 11 years at the helm of the AACB. “I feel privileged and very honoured, not to mention excited about working with the talented and enthusiastic SCB team who flourished so brilliantly under (former SCB chief executive officer) Jill Henry’s expert guidance. “I’m only too aware that I’ll be following in mighty footsteps,” he said.

Cannon has worked with Trans Australia Airlines in Papua New Guinea, and later spent time with Qantas, then Dalgety Travel as manager of Victoria before starting his own destination management firm, AFIT-Specialist Tours. He was a founding board member of the National Tourism Alliance of Australia, has served on the board of the Australian Tourism Export Council for two years as chairman, and was an integral part of the Australian Tourism Minister’s Advisory Council.

A current councillor with the Business Events Council of Australia, Cannon has also served on various advisory boards and action groups, for example Southern Cross University’s Tourism Advisory Council and the Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association & Dune Care Inc.

Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, before moving to Australia, Cannon is a graduate of Harvard Business School with a Certificate of Owner/ President Management, in 1991 (OPM/ Hbs). His past achievements include convincing the Australian Federal Government and its Authority to recognise the importance of Business Events in Australia, worth A$17.3bil to Australia’s economy at the time.

-thestar online.

AAX to axe Christchurch route next?

PETALING JAYA: After announcing its withdrawal from popular European and Indian cities earlier this year, AirAsia X (AAX) is set to axe its KL-Christchurch-KL route, according to a source.

“It may announce the cut as early as this week and suspend flights within the next few months,” the source added. Those in the know claimed that the airline was making losses on the route although it did stimulate demand for the twice weekly flights to New Zealand.
In January, AAX said it would stop flying to London, Paris, New Delhi and Mumbai. It is learnt that AAX is moving away from long-haul to medium-haul flights.

“We see this as a change in network strategy as it is moving away from the longer flights,” CAPA Centre for Aviation senior analyst Brendan Sobie said. AAX seemed to be focusing on routes that were in the eight to nine-hour flying radius and it would take 13 hours to fly to London or Paris and 11 hours to Christchurch. The only other Asean airline to fly into Christchurch is Singapore Airlines which operates on a daily basis. Sobie said that the farther an airline flew, the higher its cost and for LCCs, cost management is a big part of its business. He added that the biggest cost advantage for LCCs was really shorter flights.
-thestar online.

4,000 cabbies to be tourism’s driving force

Bonjour: Dr Ng sharing a light moment with French tourist Vincent Pinatel, his wife Anne and their children Margot (standing) and Romain during her visit to the covered walkway from KLCC to Pavilion yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR: About 4,000 taxi drivers in the Klang Valley will be appointed tourism taxi ambassadors in an effort to enhance the service industry and promote the country. The move followed complaints from tourists about taxi drivers, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She added that the pilot project was to provide the drivers with “capacity building” to understand their roles better in nation-building. “This is part of the Government’s initiative under the Malaysian Tourism Transformation Plan to achieve RM168bil in tourism revenue and 36 million tourists by 2020,” she said after visiting the covered walkway between the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre to Pavilion Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Dr Ng said the ministry would collaborate with taxi associations and ask them to recommend drivers who could become tourism taxi ambassadors. “The taxi must be clean, the driver must possess basic communication skills and not smoke while driving,” she added. Dr Ng said the taxi drivers would be briefed on various new tourism products and government initiatives. They would also have to attend a one-day course. “The training will be made for batches of 100 people each, which will begin in the middle of March,” she added.

The taxi drivers will be monitored for six months after the course and the selection will be done by a panel comprising taxi associations representatives, Land Public Transport Com­­­­­­­mission (SPAD) and the ministry.

At a separate event, Dr Ng launched the 1Malaysia Grand Prix Sale that will be held from March 10-April 15. The events that will be held in conjunction with the GP Sale are the Malaysia International Shoe Festival (March 29-April 1), F1 Race Day (March 23-25) and the Fourth Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (March 15-18).
-thestar online.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Olivia Newton-John @ Resort World Genting

Date: 29 March 2012
Time: 8pm
Venue: Area Of Stars

1Malaysia GP Sale Launch

Tourism Minister Dato' Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen launched the 1Malaysia Grand Prix Sale on 28 February at Seventh Heaven, on the 7th floor of the Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur. The 1Malaysia GP Sale will be held from 10 March to 15 April 2012.

Taking a breather from playing in the BMW Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, three world class tennis players, Shuai Peng, Jelena Jankovic, and Agnieszka Radwanska, were also present at the 11 am launch event. The tennis starlets will also act as ambassador to help promote Malaysia as a shopping destination especially with the attraction of the 1Malaysia GP Sale and duty free shopping.

Following the launch, they proceeded on a shopping tour of Luxury Brand stores in Pavilion after witnessing a fashion show featuring some of Parkson's shoe designs. Lucky Draw Prizes sponsored by the tenants of Pavilion KL were given out to the lucky members of the audience at the launch. Amongst the prizes were Storm London watches, Shu Uemura gift set, fragrance set by Parkson, and a Sembonia handbag.

The media launch was preceded by the Minister taking a walk through the newly opened covered walkway from the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

The covered walkway, which connects KLCC to Bukit Bintang, is one of the Entry Point Projects under the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Programme to create a comprehensive pedestrian network in the city. It is expected to enhance travel for those intending to shop within the Golden Triangle, thus making the Bukit Bintang/KLCC area a vibrant shopping precinct.

Other events that will be held in conjunction with the 1Malaysia GP sale are:

1. Malaysia International Shoe Festival (MISF), 29 March to 1 April
2. F1 Race Day, 23 - 25 March
3. The 4th Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2012, 15 -18 March

The MISF will be jointly launched with world-renowned designer, Dato' Professor Dr. Jimmy Choo at the Putra World Trade Centre. Mastercard is the official card of the 1Malaysia GP Sale. Mastercard has helped promote Malaysia as a premier shopping destination through various programmes with the Ministry.

During the course of the sale, both foreign and local cardholders enjoy special privileges and rewards at participating outlets nationwide including instant mall redemption and unique prizes. By spending a minimum of RM500 via Mastercard at Pavilion KL, cardholders stand to win delectable treats to share with friends and family.

Cardholders also stand a chance to win autographed merchandise from the Women's Tennis Association professionals or branded handbags through an exclusive contest in collaboration with Pavilion KL. Those in Penang can also look forward to receiving exquisite coin purses by spending a minimum of RM200 at Queensbay Mall, Penang.

Last year, Malaysia received 24.7 million tourists, with tourist receipts amounting to 58.3 billion ringgit. Shopping contributed to 30% of the total tourist revenue, with a grand total of 17.5 billion ringgit.

For more information/media releases, please visit our website at

-Tourism Malaysia.

Raub destinasi sukan lasak

RAUB 27 Feb. - Aktiviti sukan lasak dan rekreasi di daerah ini mula mendapat tempat apabila ia dimasukan dalam kalendar Pelancongan Pahang bagi menarik peminat sukan lasak dari seluruh negara dan antarabangsa berkunjung ke daerah itu.

Salah satu pertandingan yang dianjurkan adalah Karnival Motorcross Antarabangsa Raub Pahang yang dianjurkan oleh Persatuan Permotoran Daerah Raub (PPDR) di sini baru-baru ini. Pengerusi persatuan berkenaan, Raja Ali Raja Meran berkata, penganjuran karnival tersebut bukan setakat pertandingan semata-mata tetapi memperkenalkan daerah itu sebagai destinasi pelancongan bertaraf dunia.

''Kami percaya melalui aktiviti seperti itu ia menyemarakkan lagi minat pelancong asing datang ke sini mengambil bahagian dalam pertandingan sukan lasak. ''Walaupun baru pertama kali pertandingan itu diadakan, kami berjaya menarik penyertaan para pelumba dari Thailand, Singapura dan Brunei," katanya kepada Utusan Malaysia di sini baru-baru ini.

Karnival yang berlangsung selama dua hari itu disertai 180 pelumba termasuk empat pelumba wanita dan kanak-kanak yang berusia sembilan tahun. Kejohanan itu yang dibahagi kepada lima kategori itu turut mengadakan Klinik Sukan Motocross bertujuan memperkenalkan sukan lasak dan menarik minat mereka dalam usaha melahirkan jaguh-jaguh sukan ternama pada masa akan datang. Peserta diberi taklimat dan penerangan mengenai asas penggunaan motosikal motocross oleh jurulatih serta teknik tunggangan bagi mengelak ditimpa kemalangan.

Bagi mencapai matlamat tersebut katanya, PPDR membina litar mengikut spesifikasi motocross antarabangsa sepanjang dua kilometer di pinggir hutan Jalan Cheroh meliputi kawasan seluas 20 hektar. Katanya, selain litar berkenaan, pihaknya akan membangunkan kawasan itu sebagai trek untuk pertandingan kenderaan pacuan empat roda pada masa akan datang.

Beliau yakin pembinaan kedua-dua trek berkenaan mampu melonjakkan nama daerah itu sebagai destinasi pelancongan berasaskan alam semulajadi.

''Pada pertandingan tahun depan, PPDR berharap dapat menarik lebih ramai penyertaan peserta luar negara terutama peserta dari negara-negara Eropah, Jepun dan Australia. ''Litar ini juga akan menjadi tempat anak-anak muda tempatan menggilap serta mencungkil bakat mereka dalam sukan lasak itu supaya dapat melangkah lebih jauh dalam sukan pemotoran," katanya.

Katanya, daripada maklum balas yang diterima daripada pihak terbabit dengan penganjuran sukan itu mendapati, litar yang terdapat di situ adalah antara terbaik di negara ini dan memenuhi spesifikasi litar perlumbaan motocross. ''Melalui sumbangan yang tidak seberapa ini, PPDR berharap dapat memperkenalkan keindahan alam semula jadi dan kebudayaan rakyat tempatan kepada pelancong luar negara.

''Perkembangan industri pelancongan di kawasan itu secara tidak langsung memberi limpahan ekonomi kepada penduduk tempatan untuk memasarkan produk keluaran mereka," katanya.

-Utusan online.

Air Asia revamps menu to offer more food choices for passengers

When CNNGo came up with the ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods’ which included Chicken Massaman Curry from Thailand, Air Asia immediately jumped on the bandwagon and included the dish in their in-flight menu.

The blend of Indian curry with Thai spices with hints of coconut milk results in an interesting sweet and savoury flavour. Now we don’t have an excuse to keep gravitating to the mighty nasi lemak. As far as food goes, a good variety is the spice of anyone’s life.

Chia (third from right), Air Asia Thailand commercial director Santisuk Klongchaiya (second from right) and Air Asia Thailand inflight sales manager On-anong Methapipatkul (third from left) together with some of the Thai cabin crew members at the Thai Air Asia Co. office.

Riding on this philosophy, Air Asia has revamped its in-flight menu to offer more food choices to passengers. Having said that, the trick is to pre-book your meals while booking your flight as you will have a longer list of dishes to choose from. There have been people who belly ached about some meals being unavailable when they order onboard the aircraft.

“It is because we can’t actually gauge what people will order. In the end, that leads to wastage of the unpurchased food,” said Air Asia’s catering and inflight management regional head Shireen Chia. By prebooking your meals, you can enjoy the food at a cheaper price and book more than one meal.

Under close watch : Staff at See Fah making Chicken Lasagna.

The main purpose for the revamp is to introduce food from the region like Thailand and Indonesia. “Some items are available to all destinations but some are only limited to that particular country. For example, Basil Fried Chicken with Rice is only available on Thailand (FD) flights,” added Chia. Chicken Massaman is available from January to February as part of the inflight specialty.

“We include different food highlights every two months based on country festivals. For example, come March/April, there will be Pad Thai with Shrimp (stir fried rice noodles with tamarind sauce and bean sprouts) in time for Songkhran in Thailand. “In May/June, we will include Hong Kong food in conjunction with the Dragon Boat festival.”

Decent portion: Chicken Lasagna.

Soon to make its appearance in the Air Asia pre-booked meals are more varieties of light snacks and desserts. “We want to emphasise that all of our meals prepared at our Thailand and Indonesia facilities are certified halal,” she stressed. Some 3,000kg of chicken is used a month to prepare 13 chicken dishes to all destinations.

The Star was recently invited to visit Air Asia’s catering supplier, See Fah, located in the Seamut Prakarn province near Bangkok. See Fah even has a quality control manager to oversee that the food which goes on board the flight is consistent in terms of grammage, presentation and taste on a weekly basis.

They source halal chickens from Betagro Group located in the Ropburi province. So how did the partnership start? “The CEO of Thai Air Asia had a meal at See Fah restaurant and liked the food. He approached the owner and suggested we start a partnership. That was in 2008. See Fah also uses biodegradable products to clean their equipment,” said Chia.

See Fah was founded by the grandparents of its CEO, Taveerach Rachjaibun in 1936. He now runs the business with his sister, Maneegorn. “It started as an ice-cream stand and fruit store in Chinatown, Bangkok. Throughout the years it slowly became a restaurant and food service company,” said Rachjaibun.

In Jakarta, we were taken to Aerofood ACS where we sampled some of the best sellers on Indonesian-bound flight menu such Nasi Kuning Manado, Nasi Padang and Nasi Lemak. Aerofood ACS has seven in-flight catering facilities throughout Indonesia including Denpasar, Surabaya, Medan, Balikpapan, Yogyakarta and Bandung.

“We started working with Air Asia since July 2010. “Approximately 1,600 meals go out each day from all of our kitchens,” said Aerofood ACS general manager (Jakarta) Afdal Amir. Their executive sous chef Herman Hoi hails from Hong Kong but has spent 17 years working in Indonesia.

“The dishes are made in Indonesia but the recipes are developed in Malaysia. We will occasionally tweak the recipes to suit the general public’s taste,” said Hoi. Their Nasi Kuning Ayam Bumbu Bali which has a mild taste of coconut milk and comes with pickles is must-try. “If customers want a more spicy flavour, they can opt for Nasi Kuning Manado,” added Hoi.

How does Air Asia come up with the dishes for their inflight menu? “We don’t just offer usual food you can find anywhere so we choose signature hawker dishes from each country. “For Thailand and Indonesian dishes, our counterparts in both countries will tweak the recipes we develop to make sure it’s just right.

“That goes for our general hot items on the menu such as lasagna and chicken spaghetti. We also get our cabin crew to sample the food and provide their feedback so we can improve the recipes. “We also get customer/passenger feedback on-board and via the Internet,” said Chia. Air Asia will soon have kitchen catering facilities in Phillippines in March and Japan in August.

-thestar online.

Green recognition for Malaysian hotels

Eleven hotels in Malaysia were honoured with the Asean Green Hotel Recognition Award 2012 at the Asean Tourism Forum held at Grand Kawanua Convention Centre in Manado, Indonesia recently.

The awards were presented by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, who attended the ceremony together with other Tourism Ministers from the 10 Asean countries. Among the Malaysian hotels that received the award were Mines Wellness Hotel, Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur and its sister properties Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu and Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang.

Good news: Samm (back row, third from left) with Mines Wellness Hotel’s heads of departments and gardeners celebrating the hotel’s latest achievement.

The award recognises players in the hotel industry whose operations are based on environmentally-friendly principles and adopts energy conservation measures. The Asean Green Hotel Standard is valid through the years 2012 to 2014. Mines Wellness Hotel general manager Eusebius Samm, said: “Environmental consciousness is not just a management decision which we need to practice but a way of life for us at the Mines Wellness Hotel. Here, we believe that each of us can play a part in keeping the earth green and we attempt to do so every day.

“The hotel’s policies not only assist to keep our operations green but to propagate the green message, every employee is tasked to spread the word on green. This way, we play a part not only as operators but educators who help the green cause,” he added.

Some of the initiatives areharvesting rain water to be reused, recycle cooking oil, creating baskets using magazines and newspapers, advocating green messages to young children through their CSR campaign, placing health and environment related messages in rooms and hotel vicinity, creating table centre piece using broken glass wares, increasing the air cond temperature to 24 degrees Celsius, and doing away with plastic newspaper holders – the hotel makes their own newspaper holder using coconut husks and scrap wood pieces.

Meanwhile, Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur vice president/general manager Lothar Nessmann said: “Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur’s accomplishment for this Asean Green Hotel Award further serves recognition towards its continued effort in sustaining an environmentally-friendly hotel that benefits not only its guests and employees, but also the community at large.” Held every two years, the Asean Green Hotel Award is a form of appreciation and recognition towards tourism stakeholders for adopting the Asean Green Hotel Standards into their services.

Environmental issues are the main aspects for the assessment, as stipulated in the Asean Green Hotel Standard document. Criteria and essential requirements include environmental policy and hotel operation activities, utilisation of green products, cooperation with local community and organisations, human resources development, solid waste management, energy efficiency, water efficiency, water quality management, noise pollution control, waste water treatment and management, and toxic and chemical substance disposal management.

-thestar online.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Malaysia-Philippines air links to get a boost

Air connectivity between Malaysia and the Philippines is set to increase from next month, following a meeting between Malaysia’s tourism minister Ng Yen Yen and senior officials from five airlines in Manila last week.


“The airline representatives have agreed to increase the frequency of flights (from the Philippines) to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu from March,” said Ng, who was on an official visit to launch the Luxury Malaysia brand as well as discuss bilateral collaboration in tourism.


“From March 25, Malaysia Airlines will increase its flights to three times a day; Southeast Asian Airlines will fly three times a week (from Clark International Airport, starting May 1) to Kota Kinabalu; Zest Air will likely start flights (to Kuala Lumpur) from mid-year; and AirAsia is looking at increasing flights.” Malaysia is targeting 400,000 visitors from the Philippines this year, compared to 362,000 last year.


Ng added: “With the strengthening of collaboration between the travel trade, Malaysia has the opportunity to leverage on connectivity and tourism strengths of the Philippines in the US market. Likewise, the Philippines can also leverage on the connectivity and tourism strengths of Malaysia in the European, Middle Eastern and Indian markets.”

-TTG Asia.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Italian Guardini stamps authority to win second stage, Anuar finishes in fourth position

MALACCA: Italian sprint prodigy Andrea Guardini opened accounts in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) by winning the second stage from Putrajaya to Malacca, stamping his authority as the rider to beat in this year’s Tour.

The Farnese Vini rider benefited from a good lead-out from his team-mates Thomas Bertolini and Cristian Benenati to cross the line ahead of Jacobe Keough (United Healthcare), Christian Delle Stelle (Colnago CSF Inox) and Anuar Manan (Champion System). Guardini finished the 151km race in 3’35:19. David Zabriskie of Garmin-Barracuda retained the leader’s yellow jersey after finishing in the bunch, maintaining his lead of 1:00 ahead of Adam Phelan of Drapac Cycling in the general classification.

Final sprint: Farnese Vini rider Andrea Guardini (left) of Italy leading the way in the dash to the finish line during the second stage in Malacca yesterday. — Bernama

“I came from three races (Tour of San Luis, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman) without a win and now I feel that I have the legs to bag a win,” said Guardini. “I thank my team-mates Bertolini and Benenati for doing a great job of putting me in the right position for the finish.”

Race leader Zabriskie was well protected in the peloton by his Garmin team-mates and it helped him retain the yellow jersey for another day. “The boys did a good job controlling the race today and I thank them for that,” said Zabriskie.

Yesterday’s race highlight was the breakaway led by OCBC Singapore’s Loh Sea Keong just before the first intermediate sprint zone at the 22.5km mark. The Kelantan-born Sea Keong was joined by Drapac Cycling’s Floris Goesinnen and the duo were let off the leash by the peloton and they built up a four-minute lead. With 25km to go before the finish, the gap narrowed down to 1:10 after Garmin took control of the peloton to set up a bunch finish.

The narrow brick road in the last 500m of the race made it difficult for riders as they jostled for spots to set up their final sprint. Anuar, meanwhile, had to fight his battle against Guardini alone after he lost the support of his Champion System team-mates leading up to the finish line.

“My team-mates (Aaron Kemps and Chris Butler) worked hard at the intermediate sprints to reel in the breakaway but they just ran out of gas toward the end. “I had to fight alone against Guardini who had the assistance of his team-mates but in the end, it’s not such a bad result for me,” said Anuar.

-thestar online.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Malaysia, here we come

Dwindling profits and higher fuel costs may have led AirAsia X to cancel its Indian and European routes but a focus on regional markets, including the hotly anticipated Kuala Lumpur to Sydney route, falls in line with tourism strategies listed in the government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

AirAsia X’s Sydney to Kuala Lumpur route will be launched on April 1 and the daily service has the potential to bring 55,000 additional Australian visitiors to Kuala Lumpur annually. The new flight path follows strategic points laid out in 2010 by the Economic Transformation Prog-ramme: A Roadmap for Malaysia to increase flight frequencies to 10 priority cities in Australia, China, India, South Korea and Taiwan.

The ETP expects these countries to make up more than 90% of “medium-haul” international tourists by 2020, a group which is expected to triple to 43% of all foreign visitors to Malaysia. “It is thus critical to focus on the key cities within these six countries where there is a significant connectivity gap today, namely Beijing, Delhi, Melbourne, Mumbai, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo,” the ETP states in Chapter 10: Revving up the Tourism Industry.

“In parallel, the Transport Ministry will focus its effort on increasing air rights to the countries that currently have restricted air rights (primarily Australia, India and Japan).” Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith International airport is the largest international gateway to Australia. Until AirAsia X’s announcement on Jan 17 that it would begin a daily service, Malaysian Airlines had a monopoly on the Kuala Lumpur to Sydney route.

With an advertising campaign and word-of-mouth publicity, AirAsia X’s $99 (RM316) one way fares from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur were snapped up by thousands of Australians in the first five days they were available on the company’s website. Angela Zanette, 27, from Sydney booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia X after her friend spotted the cheap fares in a local newspaper.

Travelling 10 days across Malaysia, Zanette is expecting to spend $2,000 (RM6,400) on accommodation, food, cultural experiences and shopping — almost triple the average spending of international tourists to Malaysia. She said without the budget carrier, an overseas holiday to Malaysia would not have been an option. “When I think about travelling in Asia, I don’t really think of KL. The AirAsia route and the cost was the most influential thing in my decision to travel there.”

Frequent Sydney travellers to South-East Asia were also lured by the cheap deals from AirAsia X. Retired airline employee Gillian Moynihan, 71, said AirAsia X’s announcement to fly from Sydney hastened her preparations for her third trip to Kuala Lumpur. “I saw a promo ad in the newspaper while having coffee at my local cafe,” said Moynihan. “I had plans (to go to Kuala Lumpur) but no air bookings. The ad prompted me to act quickly.”

Currently, more than 600,000 Australians visit Malaysia every year, ranking as the seventh largest source of overseas tourists to Malaysia. Although this number is comparatively small given the more than 24 million international tourists that visited Malaysia in 2010, reasons including the higher Australian dollar, affordable, quality hotels and AirAsia X’s newly opened flight path are giving thousands of Australians new incentives to travel here.

“Australia is a key market for AirAsia X and the Sydney route has long been a priority due to strong demand from Sydneysiders who have been screaming out for more competition,” AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said at a press conference in Sydney earlier this year. “Our goal has always been to make international travel affordable for everyone, and now Sydneysiders can access Kuala Lumpur which is the gateway to exotic destinations across our growing network at affordable low fares.”

-thestar online.

400,000 Filipino tourists targeted

MANILA: Malaysia is targeting at least 400,000 tourists from the Phi­lippines this year, said Tourism Mi nister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen YenLast year, 362,101 Philippines tou rists visited the country.

“The airline representatives have agreed to increase the frequency of flights to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Ki na balu from March. “From March 25, MAS will increase its flights to three times a day; SEAIR would fly three times a week from Clarke Fields to Kota Kinabalu, Zest Air will likely start flights from mid year and AirAsia is looking at increasing flights,” said Dr Ng when speaking to Malaysian media here just after a meeting representatives of five airline operators here.

Later, she held a meeting with Phi lip pines Secretary of Tourism Ramon Jimenez Jr to discuss bilateral collaboration in tourism. Present were the countries res pective ambassadors Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saadand J. Eduardo Mala ya. Dr Ng added that they planned to use each other’s strong connectivity with different regions and markets. She added that they had also invited the Philippines to join an international tourism exhibition and fair in KL on May 31.

Dr Ng was also in Manila to host a luxury Malaysia Gala Lunch in conjunction with the 13th edition of the Islamic Fashion Festival.

-thestar online.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Installation of new king on April 11, public holiday declared

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sultan of Kedah, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, is to be installed as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on April 11, and the date, a Wednesday, will be a national public holiday.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said two main events would be held on that date - the installation ceremony in the morning and the royal banquet at night, both at the Istana Negara. He said the declaration of the public holiday is made under Section 8 of the Holidays Act 1951 for peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan. "Sabah and Sarawak will do the necessary in accordance with their respective state laws," he said in a statement.

Tuanku Abdul Halim, 84, was appointed the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Dec 13 last year to succeed Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu whose five-year term as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong ended a day earlier. This is Tuanku Abdul Halim's second reign as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under a system of rotation among the nine Malay Rulers. He was also the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, reigning from 1970 to 1975.


MotoXpo Kuala Lumpur 2012

Date: 22~26 February 2012
Time: 10am~10pm (weekdays), 10am~10.30pm (weekend)
Venue: Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala lumpur, Malaysia
Ticket: Weekdays RM5, Weekend RM8, Under 16 & Over 60 - Free

Kate to open Marlborough College in Nusajaya

JOHOR BARU: Princess Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, is expected to open the Marlborough College in Nusajaya during a visit to the state with her husband, Prince William.

Still famously known by her maiden name Kate Middleton, she and William will visit Johor in September as part of their tour to several countries in conjunction with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee celebrations. “Arrangements are being made with the British High Commission to bring the royal couple here,” said Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Ismail Ibrahim at the European Union (EU)-Johor Day yesterday.
He added that it would be a historic moment for the college to be opened by Catherine, who is herself a former student from the main campus in the United Kindgom and the future Queen of England.

The RM160mil college in Nusajaya is currently under construction and is UK’s Marlborough College’s first overseas campus since it was founded in 1843. It is located near Iskandar Malaysia’s EduCity, an educational hub of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions from around the world. It will be fully equipped with teaching facilities, comprehensive sporting facilities, including eight rugby fields, a 400m running track, a 25m swimming pool and cricket pitches. At the age of 13, Catherine, now 30, went to the Marlborough College in Wilthshire where she studied chemistry, biology and art for her A-levels.
She left the college in July 2000.

Meanwhile, ambassadors and Charges d’Affaires from 15 EU missions, led by Ambassador and Head of EU Vincent Piket, will be in Johor Baru until tomorrow to look at investment opportunities offered by Iskandar Malaysia. Ismail said in the manufacturing sector, Spain was the biggest EU investor in Iskandar Malaysia with RM4bil, followed by Netherlands with RM1.7bil, and Germ­any with RM1.5bil.

He said Britain was the main player in Iskandar Malaysia’s service sector with investments which include New Castle Medicine University Malaysia (RM83mil), Iskandar Pinewood Studios (RM400mil), Southamp­ton University (RM25mil) and Reading University (RM150mil).
-thestar online.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

LEGOLAND® Malaysia to Feature at NATAS and its Annual Passes On Sale Today in Singapore through SISTIC

SINGAPORE, 23 February 2012 – The highly anticipated LEGOLAND® Malaysia annual passes are now on sale through SISTIC, the largest ticketing service provider globally.   

“Our partnership with SISTIC will make it more convenient for Singaporean families to get their hands on our pre-opening annual passes,” said Mr Siegfried Boerst, General Manager of LEGOLAND Malaysia. “We are extremely pleased to be able to tie-up with SISTIC and to leverage off its strong brand name. As the dominant ticketing service provider, SISTIC will play a key role in spreading the news of LEGOLAND Malaysia to more families, not just in Singapore but across the whole region.” 

Annual passes are now available from SISTIC and LEGOLAND Malaysia ( at a special discounted rate of around 30% off the official annual pass with a validity that will take pass holders to the end of 2013. Annual pass holders will be able to access the 76 acres of theme park and enjoy more than 40 rides, shows, and attractions at any time of the year once the park officially opens towards the end of 2012.


“We’re expecting to receive a positive response from families and LEGOLAND enthusiasts in Singapore, following the good take-up rate of our annual passes in Malaysia through Air Asia RedTix which started in December 2011.  In barely two months, LEGOLAND Malaysia has sold well over 5,000 annual passes. This just goes to show that these special prices are great value for money and should not be missed,” commented Mr Boerst.

For the first time in Singapore, LEGOLAND Malaysia will be participating in the NATAS fair happening over the weekend of 24 - 26 February 2012. This is an important milestone for LEGOLAND Malaysia as the theme park hopes to introduce its varied and exciting offering to Singaporeans. Several LEGO models will be on display and interested parties will also be able to purchase annual passes at the LEGOLAND Booth.

 Located in Nusajaya, LEGOLAND Malaysia is just a 10-minute drive from the second link connecting Singapore to Johor. Once complete the park will be the sixth LEGOLAND theme park in the world and first in Asia.


Annual Passes are sold for a limited time only at the special rate of S$62 for children 3-11 years old and seniors 60 years and above, and S$80 for adults in Singapore. Families from across the region can experience the only theme park of its kind in Asia, especially designed for families with children aged from 2-12 years. The LEGOLAND brand is synonymous with a family’s well-being and holistic development through interactive fun-filled activities which offer endless opportunities for growth and learning. For ticketing details, please visit the LEGOLAND Malaysia website at

-Legoland Malaysia.