You Wings, formerly known as Flying Fox, is set to take off in late June but not from Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport but from Bayan Lepas International Airport, Penang instead. The locally-conceptualised airline has gone into a smart partnership with one of Indonesia’s largest airlines, Sriwijaya Air to serve the Penang-Medan route and later the Kuala Trengganu-Medan sector.

The original Ipoh-Medan route will be incorporated once works on repairing the Ipoh airport runway are completed. Sriwijaya Air’s fleet of Boeing 737-300s will be used to ply the Penang-Medan and Kuala Trengganu-Medan routes and later expanding to Bangladesh and Southern China. The Ipoh airport, at the moment, can only take the lighter propeller-driven passenger planes of which You Wings is seriously considering acquiring as an interim measure.

You Wings took the liberty to kick start its business venture by taking some 41 tour operators from Medan on a familiarisation tour of Ipoh recently. The tour was fully sponsored by Ipoh’s tourist fraternity which included Hospital Pantai, Sunway’s Lost World of Tambun, Symphony Suites Hotel, Casuarina @ Meru and the Malaysian Association of Tour Agents (Perak).

The agents were taken on a visit of the many touristic destinations within the city, among them the iconic cave temples, pomelo orchards, kampong kacang puteh, railway station, heritage buildings and the Lost World of Tambun.

They were then feted at Symphony Suites Hotel hosted by You Wings and graced by Dato’ Nolee Ashilin Dato’ Mohd Radzi, the Executive Councillor for Tourism, Health and Culture. Gifts and mementoes were exchanged during the dinner event, which was attended by some 150 guests, mainly local tourism industrial players.

Tseng Jian Erwin, the spokesman for the Medan tour operators was optimistic that efforts to attract visitors from Medan to Ipoh would be fruitful so long as a viable entry point is in existence. “You may not get the desired number via Penang,” he reasoned. “Medical tourism is the most favourable sector you need to exploit. The rest is largely on a needs basis."

The state government has to seriously consider Erwin’s views, as he was forthright with his thoughts based on his experience dealing with Medanese visiting Penang and Kuala Lumpur for their medical appointments.

FZB