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.

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