BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) has commenced its first non-stop flight to London Heathrow earlier today, further enhancing bilateral relations between Brunei and the United Kingdom.
The new past midnight 14-hour flight using the B787 Dreamliner marked a significant milestone for RB as the round-trip travel time is reduced by three hours.
Finance and Economy II Minister and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, in his speech at the launching ceremony of the inaugural flight held at Brunei International Airport, said that the initiative will no doubt be a catalyst for increased travel, trade and tourism.
“United Kingdom is a very large tourism market and we believe the non-stop service to Brunei and one-stop services to Sabah and soon Sarawak will offer guests a very compelling Borneo island proposition,” he said.
The minister, who is also the chairman of RB board of directors, said that with the non-stop service and good connections via Brunei International Airport, it is believed that there will be significant growth from the important long-haul market.
He added: “The dedicated seat capacity to UK and United Arab Emirates as a result of the new schedule programme of RB, coupled with attractive airfares and packages will assist Brunei Tourism in realizing its goal of 500,000 visitors to our shores by 2021.”
On his part, British High Commissioner to Brunei Richard Lindsay in his remarks said that RB’s past achievements are examples of the strength of Brunei – UK business relationships over the years.
“Just as the world getting smaller from flying direct, the business and educational links between our countries grow larger. I hope that this will tempt more British visitors to come to Brunei,” he said, adding that UK’s Trade Envoy Paul Scully will be visiting Brunei in over a week.
Lindsay believed that the direct flight will make a significant difference to the number of UK companies considering to set up their businesses in the sultanate.
Moreover, RB Chief Executive Officer Karam Chand said that the non-stop services provide a more attractive option for guests flying from other markets particularly the Melbourne – London route.
“The introduction of one-stop in Brunei cuts the flight times by four hours to and from Melbourne. This makes RB a major player in the Victoria – London market. In fact, our Melbourne – Brunei – London flight is the shortest possible route,” he said.
With the launch of the daily non-stop flights to London, RB ceases operations of its Dubai – London – Dubai route.
RB will continue to provide vital link to the Gulf countries via Dubai and offer four times weekly Brunei – Dubai – Brunei services effective October 29.
On top of the direct flight launch, RB also announced on its all-new website that will go live on Tuesday, featuring updated content pages, new destination guides and flight search, among others.
The boutique airline started its first flight to London Gatwick via Singapore and Dubai in 1990 before flying twice weekly to London Heathrow on May 10, 1991.
It is only on May 16, 2004 that RB launched its daily flight to London Heathrow via Dubai.
By year end, RB will have seven A320 NEOs, two A320 CEOs and five B787 aircrafts making its fleet one of the youngest in the world with an average fleet age of two years.
Also present at the launching ceremony was Minister of Communications YB Dato Seri Setia Abdul Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohammad Yusof.