PENANG: 'The Pearl of the Orient' gave a James Bond welcome to the first arrivals here from London in Malaysia Airlines' inaugural flight, with a local Agent 007 and a bevy of Bond girls in elegant gowns among those who received them at the Penang International Airport.
The 236 passengers who disembarked in Penang on MAS flight MH007, caught many by surprise when the plane landed at 3.50pm, about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, due to a tailwind.
Another group of 132 passengers later disembarked at the KL International Airport. There were, therefore, a total of 368 people on the MAS Boeing 747 Bond flight here.
A specially-composed Bond track of all the secret agent’s movies was played as the visitors were greeted by a stage backdrop resembling the famous camera lens, which usually appear at the beginning of Bond movies, with the slogan From Penang With Love.
State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Women's Development Committee chairman Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen, Penang International Hotels Association (Piha) chairman Arbind Shrestha and other officials were present to welcome the group.
The 11-hour direct flight left London’s Heathrow Airport at 9pm local time on Tuesday, just two days after the inaugural flight carrying 338 passengers flew into Langkawi.
Yesterday, the 40 invited guests included London’s top fashion designer Arkadius Weremczuk, former royal riding instructor to Princess Diana's sons James Hewitt, renowned shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo, British journalists, British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur Bruce Cleghorn and travel trade agents from London.
Weremczuk, who was visiting Penang for the first time, said he was impressed with the service on the flight, which he described as smooth.
He said he was looking forward to visiting all the tourist spots and getting new ideas for his designs.
London-based deejay Paul McKee, 37, who makes annual trips to Penang to buy karaoke CDs, said he was grateful for the “excellent” direct flight as it would save him five hours in travelling time.
Malaysia Airlines general manager (Sales-West) Datuk Rashid Khan said the airlineplanned to have direct flights from international destinations like Frankfurt and China to Penang following its historic inaugural flight here.
Rashid, who accompanied the passengers, described the flight as, “beautiful, smooth and efficient.”
“It's part of our strategy to make resort destinations in Malaysia such as Penang and Langkawi accessible to foreigners,” he added.
With the direct flights, tourists from London can now fly direct to Penang twice weekly – on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
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