Oct 3, 2009

Last Flight Out

Last MAS flight out of New York

By LIM AI LEE, Malaysian Star

NEW YORK: The 19-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur which took off from here at 10pm on Thursday (10am Friday, Malaysian time) turned out to be a sentimental journey for many passengers and crew.

MH91 was Malaysia Airlines’ farewell flight from the Big Apple as Malaysia’s national carrier has decided to suspend its Kuala Lumpur-New York route.

As the plane prepared for take-off from the Newark Airport, it was given a water salutation normally reserved for aircraft making their debut at an airport.

A total 188 passengers boarded the flight, including eight members from the Malaysian national darts team who had just won a bronze medal at the World Darts Championship in North Carolina.

“We are happy to catch the last flight home but at the same time, disappointed that MAS will stop flying from New York after tonight,”said team member Sazali A. Rahman from Labuan.

Pilot Kapt Badrul Hisham Zainal Abdin said he hoped MAS would change its mind about suspending the flight.

“The United States is Malaysia’s largest trading partner but direct acccess has now been reduced to just Los Angeles,” he noted.

MAS area vice-president (Eastern USA) Malkit Singh and station manager Kamili Md Amin were present to ensure that things went smoothly. MAS airport staff and those from its Manhattan office were also there.

The New York-Kuala Lumpur flight has been operating since 1998, initially transiting in Dubai and since Nov 2004, in Stockholm. In July this year, the airline announced that it was suspending the flight from Oct 1 due to a drop in demand following the global economic crisis.

Also on the flight were Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman and 13 Malaysian delegates who were in New York to attend the United Nations general assembly.

It's quite sentimental to see a lot of lasts, but during the economic downturn nothing can really be spared. I certainly hope 'temporary' is really temporary, and with the new MD/CEO we would see more aggressive growth.
On a more positive note, my favorite carrier had recently signed an engine purchase agreement for their new 737-800 aircrafts due to arrive next year.

The short-haul aircrafts would be used to replace its aging 737 fleets, some almost as old as me. So, by September 2010, we can see state-of-the-art aircrafts when we fly MAS across ASEAN, South Asia and China (within 4 hours flying time).