RB flying high

Syazwani Hj Rosli

Brunei to Beijing is another significant milestone for Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) as it celebrates the launch of its flight to Beijing Daxing International Airport in an official launching event at Li Gong Restaurant of The Empire Hotel & Country Club last night.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong was the guest of honour. Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah who is also the Chairman of RB Board of Directors and Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof were also present.

Also present was Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brunei Darussalam Ning Bo.

“The resumption of the Brunei–Beijing flight is a very significant milestone for the national airline of Brunei Darussalam and an auspicious occasion for all of us. We are proud to inaugurate services to the capital city of China, our 26th international destination. We first flew to Beijing on October 3, 1993 and tomorrow morning (October 27, 2019), we will resume our services to Beijing Daxing International Airport,” RB’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Captain Saiful Bahrin binBahar said.

“The China market is a key market for all airlines and is equally important for RB. Furthermore this is an important capital city to the capital city link that has been missing in our route network. We are pleased we can make the seamless and direct connection possible with the new technology A320neo aircraft from tomorrow,” he said.

“RB is one of the first of the few international airlines selected to operate to the new state-of-the-art Beijing Daxing International Airport in its phase one of the new airport opening. We express our gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and China President Xi Jinping for their vision to make this connection a top priority and enable us to commence operations at the earliest opportunity,” Captain Saiful Bahrin said.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah and Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof at the launching ceremony. PHOTO: SYAZWANI HJ ROSLI

“We are also pleased to announce our plan to increase Beijing’s flight frequency to daily flights on January 14, 2020, in line with the Chinese New Year 2020. This is also a timely initiative given both countries are celebrating the Brunei-China Tourism Year next year. We encourage all Brunei tourism and trade stakeholders to take advantage of the Brunei-China Tourism Year, the awareness it will create and help positively position Brunei in the minds of millions of potential Chinese visitors,” he added.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said, “Beijing represents yet another significant milestone that will improve connectivity for Bruneians, thereafter enabling the nation to create network relations as it aspires to create better efficiencies, and add value to the industry it is operating and revitalising in.

“With the existence of business engagement platforms that we already have across both countries, such as the China-ASEAN Expo and the China International Import Expo to name a few, the resumption of the Beijing service makes way for further development in many fields including, but are not limited to, digital economy, e-commerce, foreign direct investments, maritime oil and gas resources, and many more.

“Specifically, in the case of Brunei, bilateral trade with China has increased significantly in 2018 with an 80 per cent increase to USD1.8 billion from USD1 billion.

“China is also Brunei’s largest import partner and the second largest trading partner after Japan. Brunei, as a whole, has benefitted from good relations with China, with increasing investments and bilateral trade in areas of mutual interest, and has helped contribute to the transformation of Brunei’s economy,” he said.

He said in the tourism sector, China at present, brings in the largest number of tourists to Brunei with a 21 per cent increase last year.

“If we adopt a high level view, in 2018, international tourist arrivals to Brunei by air saw a 7.4 per cent increase from the previous year – of which China was the highest. RB’s investment into developing air connectivity and air traffic into Beijing is supplementary to the existing bilateral relations between the two nations. All of this, represents clearly, RB’s testament to its commitment to bettering its services to meet the needs of the nation and the region. In parallel, this is testament to Brunei’s commitment to further boost bilateral investment and trade”.

Ning Bo said, “The resumption of the direct flight is an important task which our two heads of states had paid great attention to. During the Second RBF in Beijing last April, His Majesty and President Xi Jinping decided together to set up three important tasks for this year’s bilateral cooperation. The resumption of the direct flight is one of them.

“I believe, with the resumption coming into realisation, the practical cooperation and friendly exchanges between the two countries will be greatly promoted. The current cooperation in every area between China and Brunei keeps a good momentum, and has great potential and a bright future. The synergy between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Brunei Vision 2035 has made more and more achievements. Next year is the year of Brunei-China Tourism Year, and in 2021 we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic ties. The resumption of direct flight to Beijing is blessed with a good timing. And with that, I believe China-Brunei Strategic Cooperative Partnership will also fly higher and further,” she added.

Simultaneously in Beijing, RB held a promotional event with RB’s International Brand Ambassador, Wu Chun in conjunction with the new Beijing flight. The event held at Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park included a Destination Brunei marketing campaign where Wu Chun took part in activities with thousands of fans and visitors at the event to promote and attract new tourists to Brunei Darussalam.

The inaugural flight from Brunei landed in Beijing Daxing International Airport with a water cannon salute at 3.50pm and was greeted with a welcoming ceremony. Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin as RB Board Director; and RB delegation led by Captain Saiful Bahrin were on the first flight.

RB will also hold a dinner reception tonight to celebrate the inaugural flight with its business partners attended by Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the People’s Republic of China Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Pahlawan Colonel (Rtd) Dato Paduka Haji Abdu’r Rahmani bin Dato Paduka Haji Basir, Deputy Director of Department of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China Wang Tian Xiang; Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong; RB Brand Ambassador; airport officials’ business partners; travel and tour agents at the Kuntai Hotel Beijing.