KOTA KINABALU: More Chinese tourists are expected to visit Sabah with three more direct flights from Beijing, Changsha and Chengdu, China to Kota Kinabalu beginning this January.
With the additional flights, there are now 95 direct flights weekly between China and Kota Kinabalu.
Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said Sabah would be expecting more direct flights from new destinations in China this year.
He said the new direct flight from Kota Kinabalu to Chengdu via Malindo Air commenced yesterday (Jan 2) and would be flying thrice weekly, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The inaugural flight departed from Kota Kinabalu at 9.45pm yesterday and arrived at Chengdu at 2am today (Jan 3). The flight will make its return trip at 3am with the first batch of visitors from Chengdu expecting to arrive in Kota Kinabalu at 7.45am today.
Not only will the direct flight bring more Chinese tourists to Sabah, Pang said Sabahan tourists could also visit renowned tourist attractions such as Jiuzhaigou, Mount Emei and the panda base in Chengdu.
In addition, Pang said Malindo Air would launch another thrice weekly direct flights from Kota Kinabalu to Changsha on January 10.
The flight will depart from Kota Kinabalu at 8.40pm and arrive at Changsha at 12.25am the next day; leave Changsha at 1.25am and back in Kota Kinabalu at 5.10am.
The Kota Kinabalu-Changsha route will fly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
He said the flight service would provide more convenience to Sabahans who wished to visit popular tourist attractions such as Zhangjiajie in Changsha.
Meanwhile, Pang said Xiamen Air would commence daily direct flights between Beijing and Kota Kinabalu on January 16, as announced by his minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun recently.
He said the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment was working on getting more direct flights from China to Sabah.
He said talks were underway with China Eastern Airlines on mounting additional direct flights from Chengdu, Wenzhou and Nanjing to Kota Kinabalu.
Pang said there were currently 95 direct flights weekly connecting Kota Kinabalu and China.
This includes direct flights offered by AirAsia between Kota Kinabalu and Wuhan (seven weekly), Hangzhou (seven), Shenzhen (seven), Guangzhou (seven) and Hong Kong (14); Kota Kinabalu-Kunming by Lucky Air (three); Kota Kinabalu-Guangzhou by Southern Airlines (14); Kota Kinabalu-Hangzhou (seven) and Kota Kinabalu-Beijing (seven) by Xiamen Air.
Meanwhile, the Kota Kinabalu-Shanghai route is serviced by three airlines, namely Spring Airlines (seven), Eastern Airlines (seven) and Malaysia Airlines (two).