: The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is in talks with Malaysian airline companies to start direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bahrain, in its mission to increase bilateral trade between the country and Malaysia.
EDB Managing Director, Dr. Simon Galpin, however, declined to divulge details on the airlines they were negotiating with or on the progress of the discussions.
"One of the areas we would like to explore (to increase bilateral trade) is to have direct flights to Malaysia.
"If we can do that, that would be a real advantage," he told reporters during a media familiarisation trip to the Bahrain EDB here, recently.
Galpin said the Bahrain International Airport is undergoing expansion.
"The airport is expanding, the expansion is under construction right now, and it''s almost 40 per cent complete," he said.
On tourism, Galpin said the country welcomed more tourists from Asia, especially from India and Malaysia.
"We are looking for growth in the tourism sector...we now have millions of visitors. What we want is not just the number of arrivals, but we also want them to stay longer.
"If we can broaden the tourism offerings such as new attractions, new resorts and hotels, we think we can make them stay longer," he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Ambassador to Bahrain, Agus Salim Yusof, said there was potential for Malaysia''s airline operators to set up base here as Bahrain welcomed any airline to come to the country.
He said Bahrain''s national airline, Gulf Air, once flew to Malaysia but the service was stopped in 2012, while Malaysian airlines had never provided services to Bahrain.
"Gulf Air has plans to resume its operation in Malaysia, but the problem is they don''t have enough aircraft.
"I was informed by the minister that Gulf Air will receive their new fleet of aircraft within the next three to four years, only then can they go Malaysia again," he said.
The Bahrain International Airport expansion, costing 1.1 billion Bahraini dinar, (1 Bahraini dinar= RM11.32) aims to increase its capacity to 14 million passengers annually.
The project, which started in February last year and scheduled for completion by 2020, involves the construction of a new passenger terminal along with the construction of additional landing slots, a service building and a hangar.
The new passenger terminal spans a 201,467-square metre area, which is four times the size of the existing terminal.
It will also feature 24 air bridges, airport aprons, departure halls, check-in counters, passport control booths, security lanes, a duty-free area, jetty-served departure gates, passport control booths, e-Gates, baggage reclaim belts and car parks.