JOHOR BAHRU, Johore state, Malaysia — The increasing number of international flights to Johor is set to start a new chapter that will make the state’s tourism and trade sectors stronger and more competitive.

State Tourism, Trade and Consumerism Committee Chairman, Tee Siew Kiong, citing AirAsia Bhd’s inaugural flights to Macau (China) and Kolkata (India) today, said they would help increase the accessibility to the state.

The Senai International Airport (LTAS) is able to enhance its global competitiveness and help make Johor become one of the key options for air travel for tourists and traders from China and India, he told reporters after welcoming the inaugural flight from Macau here today.

Also present were Johor Tourism Director Abdul Malik Ismail and AirAsia Commercial Head Spencer Lee.

Tee said the number of travellers using LTAS rose from 1.9 million in 2013 to 2.8 million last year.

We are targeting to increase the number to more than three million people by year-end, he said.

Tee said the Johor State Government was also in the final stage of discussions with an airline from South Korea to open another new aviation route from LTAS to Incheon.

“If all goes well, our first flight is expected to begin early next year with early flights scheduled twice a week before being upgraded four times a week from June 2018,” he said.

The seven times weekly direct service to Macau and five times weekly direct service to Kolkata are the fourth and fifth new routes launched by AirAsia into Johor this year, after Jakarta, Kuala Terengganu and Langkawi.

The promotional price for the Johor Bahru-Macau flight ticket starts at RM169 while Johor Bahru-Kolkata is RM119.

Meanwhile, Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd Chief Executive Officer, Md Derick Basir, said LTAS was in the final phase of upgrading the airport to ensure the services provided meet the user’s capacity.