IPOH could be seeing a fourth airline company operating at the Sultan Azlan Shah airport by the end of the year.
Collaborating to make this endeavour possible, Kestrel Airlines Sdn Bhd and Harmony Harvest Investment Holdings Ltd from Shanghai, China, have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) for the financial leasing for 36 aircraft.
The signing, marking the first step to develop an “air corridor” connecting Shanghai’s pilot free-trade zone to Perak, was witnessed by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and state executive councillors.
In his speech, Kestrel Airlines president Ken Leong said the 36 are a combination of A320 and B737 aircraft.
“This cooperation will benefit the local aviation industry as well as the communities in Perak and Malaysia as a whole.
“It helps to promote trading activities and social and cultural exchange between both countries,” he said.
Leong added that Harmony Harvest will act as the advisory team and partner to assist Kestrel Airlines in setting up and managing the airline business at the airport.
“As a start, we aspire to fly the Ipoh-Hong Kong, Ipoh-Guangzhou and Ipoh-Shanghai routes once our permits and licences have been approved.
“We aim to start offering our chartered flight services at the end of the year, and hopefully, expand to more international destinations in the future,” he said, noting that the approval process would take a lengthy period as there were stringent guidelines and procedures to follow.
Harmony Harvest president Zhang Shu Quan, who signed the MoA on behalf of Harmony Harvest Investment Holdings, said based on statistics, passengers travelling from Malaysia to Shanghai had marked a significant increase of 60.9% from 2012 to 2013.
“This means that there was an increase of 613,309 tourists.
“I am confident that once these flights are offered, we would hit a new record soon,” he said.