BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – After several delays, Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) is hoping to launch its Beijing service by the end of October, after securing landing rights at the new Beijing-Daxing Airport, the largest single terminal airport in the world.

On Wednesday, CEO Karam Chand said that RB is one of ten airlines to secure landing slots at Daxing, after unsuccessfully bidding for a slot at Beijing Capital International Airport.

“As you know, we have aspirations to fly to Beijing — we believe that it is an important capital city to capital city connection that has been missing from our network, so we have been trying hard for the last few years to get in,” he told media during an event to announce the airlines’s four-star rating from Skytrax.

“However, Beijing is a big city, it is congested with a lot of flights on a daily basis and we have not been able to secure a landing slot to get to the Beijing Capital International Airport.”

Daxing Airport, located 46km south of the city centre, spans an area of 47 square-kilometres, and will be able to handle 72 million passengers and 620,000 take-offs and landings a year.

The airport is slated to open on September 30 and will primarily host Sky Team member airlines, including China Eastern, China Southern, Delta and Air France.

Chand added that RB is going through a number of regulatory processes with the Chinese government in order to launch direct flights by October, hoping that the strong bilateral relationship between Brunei and China will help the process run smoothly.

The flag carrier currently flies to five cities in mainland China — Shanghai, Nanning, Hangzhou, Haikou, Changsha, as well as Hong Kong — and is determined to grow its presence in the China market, where commercial passenger traffic is forecasted to increase by 1.8 billion.

Speaking on the four-star rating from Skytrax, the CEO said RB engaged the travel consultancy in 2018 to conduct an airline quality audit on RB’s product and service delivery across long haul and regional flights.

“This is a result of a rigorous evaluation where every aspect of our services, standards and product offerings were audited by experienced, airline auditors using international benchmarks covering 900 line items,” said RB board director and deputy minister of Finance and Economy, Dato Seri Paduka Dr Hj Abd Manaf Hj Metussin.

He added that with the new rating, RB is one of the smallest airlines to have achieved a four-star rating by Skytrax, joining the likes of global airline brands such as Qantas, Emirates and British Airways.