KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government witnessed the historical landmark cooperation signing between Zhejiang Loong Airlines Co. Ltd. (Loong Air) and Beijing Shun Tian International Travel Co. Ltd (BJST International).
This is to develop and establish Sabah as a new hub for both parties, to bring in a foreseeable 200,000 Northern Chinese tourists annually to Sabah, specifically to Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Semporna.
This is a fairly new market for Sabah as most previous flights flew mainly from southern parts of China.
The signing of working Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Loong Air and BJST International was witnessed by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Jimmy Wong Sze Phin on December 22, 2019 at the Maison Glad Hotel, Jeju Island, South Korea. Loong Air was represented by their president, Liu Yi and BJST International by chief executive officer, Liu He.
Through the close cooperation between the state government of Sabah and Shun Tian Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd, helmed by Sabahan representatives Emerson Lo and Aaron Chang, Loong Air will mount the maiden flight from Xi’an to Sabah starting 21st January 2020, further supplemented by more routes from various cities in Northern China to Sabah in the coming months, subject to the readiness of the inbound resources available.
With the great support from the Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal, Loong Air will subsequently make Sabah as their new hub to place two new aircrafts here and open more routes simultaneously, from new cities like Xi-An, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Beijing, Nanjing and Chongqing to Sabah. They are expecting three to four flights from different cities direct every day to achieve 200,000 pax per annum.
In his speech addressing more than 200 guests at the event, Jimmy mentioned the success of the recent visit by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to China, which has opened up new opportunities for cross country collaborations between companies in China and Malaysia.
The state government of Sabah believes that by leveraging on the good relations between China and Malaysia, collaborations between China and Sabah will be brought to a new level of success.
Aligning the state to benefit from the ongoing Belt and Road Initiative, the Sabah government, under the leadership of Shafie, is ready to assist and welcome Chinese investors to the state to set up factories, hotels and infrastructures that will spur growth in various segments and the tourism industry in particular.
Also present at the event were Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents Sabah Chapter Chairman Lawrence Chin, STB Board of Director Francis Chong Soo Sang, International Business Director of BJST International Emerson Lo Vun Zet, Operations Director of Shun Tian Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd Aaron Chang and various tours and travel dignitaries from People’s Republic of China and South Korea.