TRANSAERO Airlines, Russia’s second largest carrier, made its inaugural flight to Kuala Lumpur on December 31, introducing the first-ever direct air link between Russia and Malaysia.
The airline will operate one flight weekly, every Saturday from Moscow to Kuala Lumpur, and vice versa, using a Boeing 763 aircraft in a 255-seat configuration.
Transaero had been operating charter flights to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for the past few years. The decision to start scheduled services was a result of sufficient market demand for the route, Malaysia Airports Holdings said in a statement.
Malaysia Airports Holdings managing director, Bashir Ahmad, said: “Transaero service opens a new market for us. We look forward to the airline to stabilise and strengthen its operation to Kuala Lumpur and hopefully, increase their frequency to KLIA soon.”
Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel assistant director of business development, Alexander Ivashentsev, said: “It is a good development. We already have some clients coming to Malaysia as a result of the flight.”
“However, for it to provide full potential for the inbound Malaysian market, it needs to be ongoing, uninterrupted (in the summer) and long-term,” he added.
The new service is a boon for Tourism Malaysia’s efforts to attract the Russian market, which has been given higher priority because of its yield.
Tourism minister Ng Yen Yen had said that among the big-spending source markets, “a Russian tourist spent RM9,000 (US$3,000) when travelling overseas while visitors from the other countries spent about RM7,000".
Transaero, which operates to major Russian cities and is the leading carrier to Kazakhstan, is the 57th airline to serve KLIA.