Brunei eyes aviation growth

Asean’s smallest aviation market, Brunei, consisting of fewer than 2 million annual passengers, has experienced the slowest growth rate in the bloc over the last 10 years. 

In an effort to stimulate the sector, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) is embarking on an ambitious expansion plan.

The national carrier aims to take delivery of eight aircraft this year and increase from 10 to 14 aeroplanes.

Brunei has been unsurprisingly listed at the lowest advisory level for safety and security risks in a US government bizarre four-point “safety” ranking.

Visitors are also told to “exercise normal precautions” in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Denmark, the UK, Italy, Spain and France, nonsensically, are given level 2 status.

The United States unveiled the new system last week, along with an interactive world map to warn citizens about the “dangers” of foreign travel. Eight Asean members achieved a level 1 endorsement, with only the Philippines and Indonesia falling to level 2 status.

Taking advantage of Brunei’s “safety”, RBA’s seat count is due to increase by nearly 40 per cent with a focus on boosting tourist visits from China and other northeast Asian countries.

Direct flights to Beijing have been, however, postponed until early 2018 due to “complexity of international routes”, RBA said last month.

“Because of the unexpected complexity of international routes, our direct flights to Beijing will be postponed to early next year,” RBA chief executive Karam Chand was quoted saying by China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.

“Hopefully, we will make it happen before the Chinese new year,” Chand added.

RBA said in September that it would operate twice-weekly, direct flights to Beijing by December.

RBA was intending to use the Airbus A320ceo and add a third weekly service at the earliest opportunity.

RBA started scheduled services to China with flights to Beijing in 1993 and Shanghai in 2002.

In an effort to stimulate upmarket interest in Brunei, the airline has also opened its luxury 120-capacity Sky Lounge at Brunei International Airport (BIA).

Chand said: “At Royal Brunei Airlines we believe the service experience right from research for the holiday options, bookings, service at the airport and inflight is our key strength and we continuously strive to innovate and improve the guest experience at every touch point.

“We are pleased to offer our guests the best Bruneian hospitality and positively position Brunei International Airport to international travellers.

“With the peak holiday season on the horizon, we are excited to introduce the walk-in product, a first for Brunei which we believe will be very attractive to the long-haul economy guests who have been asking for such a facility at BIA for some time.”



Picture credit: Wikimedia