KOTA KINABALU: There will now be 98 weekly flights from 10 major and secondary Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu once the inaugural flight from Shenzhen by China Southern Airlines commences today, announced the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah Christina Liew, at a press conference.
China Southern Airlines is Asia’s largest, and the world’s fourth largest carrier. The Shenzhen – Kota Kinabalu flight is Sabah’s second connection to Shenzhen. The carrier also flies direct from Guangzhou to Kota Kinabalu.
In less than three years connecting to Sabah, China Southern Airlines has increased their flights from 3 to 21 weekly which is almost one fifth of the total flights from China to the State capital.
“I wish to congratulate China Southern Airlines for upgrading their aircraft from A320 to A321 for the first 5 flights due to encouraging response during the opening sales of this route in mid-August, and reaching over 90% of the A320’s capacity.
“The decision to increase the seat capacity with a larger aircraft would bring an additional 200 passengers in the first five flights.” said Liew.
As of July this year, total arrivals to Sabah has increased +5.3% or 2.221 million compared to the same period last year. 43.3% or at least 358,000 of these arrivals are from China making it the largest market source for arrivals to Sabah.
The Minister hoped to achieve 500,000 Chinese arrivals by the end of the year.
“We appreciate the support from the Chinese Consul General HE Liang Caide for working with us closely and strengthening the Malaysia-China relations.” she added.
Up to July, Sabah Tourism has estimated that the total tourism receipts have reached RM4.81 billion or +8% more compared to the same period last year. Sabah is on track to achieve RM8 billion in revenue from tourism by the end of the year.
Malaysia Airports’ acting group Chief Executive Officer, Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said, “China Southern Airlines is one of our biggest partners which offers 52X weekly frequency from cities in China to KLIA, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi. This new service from Shenzhen to Kota Kinabalu is a testament of their commitment in connecting Malaysia to the cities in China.
“I am happy to note that Kota Kinabalu International Airport has been on a positive growth this year with 2 new airlines and 11 new services introduced. Up till August this year, there has been an increase of 7% of passenger traffic compared to the same period last year. I am grateful that Malaysia Airports has a good relationship with the Sabah Tourism Board, in making Kota Kinabalu specifically, a star destination in its own right.”
Meanwhile, the Minister hoped that the increase of foreign airlines flying into Sabah can make way for more upgrading of airport facilities including those in Sandakan and Tawau.