50,000 Singaporeans took flights from Senai last year

MORE Singaporeans are willing to endure traffic congestion at the Causeway as a small price for flying out from Johor's Senai International Airport, for they find it cheaper than to depart from Changi, reported Malaysian media.

The number of Singaporeans who flew from the airport shot up last year to 50,000 from 35,000 in 2014, an increase of 42 per cent, according to Md Derick Basir, chief executive of Senai Airport Terminal Services.

Although Changi Airport boasts world-class facilities, many Singapore residents prefer to fly from Senai, The Star daily quoted Tee Siew Kiong, chairman of Johor's Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumerism Executive Council, as saying.

He saw this as a positive sign for Johor's tourism development and congratulated Senai Airport for the achievement.

"It goes to show that our airport standards meet the expectations of Singaporean travellers so much so that they do not mind crossing the border to catch a flight here," he added.

Mr Tee also urged tourism players in Johor to further improve their services to meet the demands of visitors, such as coach services and more varied tour packages.

He said Singaporeans still made up the bulk of Johor's tourist arrivals, at around 60 per cent.

Mr Md Derick said more Singaporeans chose Senai despite the frequent traffic jams at the Customs and Immigration checkpoints, which during peak periods could result in waits of up to two hours.

The Singaporeans came for domestic flights headed for destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, or international ones provided by AirAsia, he noted.

"They see the value in flying from Senai as it is cheaper than from Changi," said Mr Md Derick.

The airport lies about 32km north-west of Johor Baru.

Aireen Omar, chief executive of AirAsia, said, currently, her company provides flights from Johor to six foreign destinations - Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Bangkok and Hat Yai, reported Sinar Online.

According to Mr Md Derick, the airport is expected to handle 3.1 million travellers by year-end, up from last year's 2.51 million.

When his company took over the airport's operation in 2004, it had only about 800,000 travellers per year, he said.

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