More opportunities to visit Central Asia with new Turkmenistan flight route


Turkmenistan Airlines cabin crew posing for a picture. The airline reintroduced its Ashgabat-KL route last week, after ending the service back in 2015. — Photos: Bernama

Turkmenistan Airlines’ inaugural flight from Ashgabat to Kuala Lumpur last week serves as a springboard for Malaysia to explore the Central Asia and Russia tourism markets.

Tourism Malaysia International Promotions (Americas/Europe/Oceania) senior director Iskandar Mirza Mohd Yusof said Turkmenistan Airlines is the second airlines from Central Asia after Uzbekistan Airways, with direct flights to KL.

“In addition, the airlines also opens the space to Muslim-friendly tourism elements since the Central Asia and Russian communities are mostly Muslim,” he said.

“So we really hope this will give us a starting point to explore the Central Asian and Russian markets where there are no direct flights (into Malaysia),” he said.

He said this to reporters after the arrival of Turkmenistan Airlines’ inaugural flight which landed at 4.10pm on Feb 15 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Terminal 1.

Iskandar said according to statistics, the number of Russian tourist arrivals to Malaysia for the period of January to November 2023 was 100,645, an increase of 39.5% compared to 2019.

“The number of Russian tourists to Malaysia increased after the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

The twice-weekly flights from Turkmenistan to Malaysia are on Tuesdays and Thursdays whereas flights from Malaysia to Turkmenistan run on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The duration of the flight is about eight hours and 10 minutes.

Earlier, the inaugural flight, carrying 228 passengers from Ashgabat, received a water cannon salute on arrival.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing and Turkmenistan Ambassador to Malaysia Muhammetnyyaz Mashalov witnessed the occasion.

Batam connection

Meanwhile, Batik Air’s new route from Batam to KL, which made its inaugural direct flight on Feb 17, is set to boost tourism traffic and improve the country’s overall economic prosperity.

Tourism Malaysia director general Datuk Dr Ammar Abd Ghapar said Indonesia holds a special place as a key tourism market for Malaysia based on the shared cultural ties and connectivity among both countries.

“We are confident that this connection will further bolster tourist arrivals as we are gearing up for Visit Malaysia 2026 and to contribute to the economic prosperity of both nations,” he said in a statement issued by Tourism Malaysia.

Operating three times weekly with a Boeing 737 aircraft, this new route underscores Batik Air’s commitment to expand its network growth in South-East Asia while catering to the increased demand for intra-regional travel.

Tourism Malaysia said that passengers arriving from the maiden flight were greeted at KLIA Terminal 1 by Ammar alongside representatives from Batik Air and Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad.

Batik Air CEO Datuk Chandran Rama Muthy said the introduction of direct flights from Batam to KL is a strategic move to expand the airline’s presence in key markets.

“This new route will enable passengers from Batam to connect to Batik Air’s ever-growing flight network to 53 destinations across 22 countries through KLIA,” he said.

According to Tourism Malaysia, Indonesia ranks second in the top 10 tourist-generating markets in ASEAN, contributing 2.8 million arrivals to Malaysia between January and November 2023.

The new route is expected to further stimulate tourism between the two nations, aligning with Malaysia’s target of welcoming 27.3 million tourists in 2024 and generating a revenue of RM102.7bil, the agency said.

Tourism Malaysia added that with the Visit Malaysia Year 2026 initiative aiming for 35.6 million foreign tourist arrivals, and projecting a revenue of RM147.1bil, the launch of the new route signals a positive step forward in strengthening Malaysia-Indonesia travel ties.

Working together

Elsewhere, the Ipoh City Council (MBI) will hold discussions with representatives of the Perak chapter of the Malaysian Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) following MBI’s decision to allow Airbnb and homestay services to operate in order to meet the city’s accommodation needs.

Ipoh mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin said his team is always open and takes the initiative to hold meetings to find the best solutions.

He said the discussion was important as the tourism sector also contributed to the economic recovery of the state and country in particular.

“MBI takes a stand from all aspects, and not to mention that Ipoh is now visited by international tourists who definitely have their own hotel preferences.

“Even the statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture shows over 300,000 international tourists visited Perak last year and that the demand for four- and five-star hotels is high. MBI understands the concern voiced by the Perak MyBHA and on these matters we will have a meeting soon,” he said in a press conference in Ipoh recently.

Rumaizi sad this after chairing the MBI full board meeting for Feburary 2024 at the MBI.

Earlier, Perak MyBHA chairman Zamari Muhyi disagreed with the MBI’s decision to allow Airbnb and homestay services for the sake of the sustainability of the registered and licensed hospitality industry.

The Perak MyBHA also confirmed that hotel rooms around Ipoh city were still sufficient to accommodate tourists especially during the weekends. – Bernama

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