KOTA KINABALU: Ninety-six passengers boarded the ‘Flight to Nowhere’ flying from Incheon International Airport, to experience the Kota Kinabalu-themed sightseeing flight.
Flight to nowhere is also known as scenic flights or sightseeing flights. Travellers get to experience all the airport and airline processes, but instead of arriving at a new destination, the passengers will arrive at the same airport they departed from.
In support of the local aviation industry and duty-free sectors in Korea that were affected by the global pandemic, the South Korean government has extended its permissions for its local-based airlines to operate the ‘Flights to Nowhere’ program. Jin Air has taken this opportunity to operate the flight and Sabah has been selected as the fourth international destination after Hong Kong, Osaka and Okinawa.
With the support from Sabah Tourism Board and assistance from Tourism Malaysia, Jin Air, one of the largest South Korean low-cost airlines, has launched its fourth ‘Flight to Nowhere’ on July 25.
Departing at 12:40 pm from Incheon International Airport, the flight route takes the passengers low-flying over Daegu, Busan, and partially Japanese airspace. It then completed the journey by arriving at exactly the same place it took off from at 14:30 pm.
The Kota Kinabalu-themed sightseeing flight has attracted Koreans’ attention with its variety of benefits and special inflight activities. Passengers boarding the flight were offered goodie bags prepared by Jin Air and Sabah Tourism Board to commemorate the occasion.
Major duty-free shops in South Korea namely Shilla, Lotte and Shinsegae have offered duty-free services on board. The cabin crew also prepared additional entertainment such as quizzes and lucky draw to keep the flight interesting. Round trip tickets (Incheon to Kota Kinabalu) sponsored by Jin Air, hotel, and sunset cruise vouchers sponsored by the Sabah Tourism Board were offered as prizes to the passengers onboard.
“People clearly miss the experience of flying. These experiences will surely offer opportunities for them to remember Kota Kinabalu as a top-of-mind tourist destination,” said Shaharuddin Yahya, director of TM Korea.
Given its success on the first flight to nowhere project, Sabah Tourism together with the Tourism Malaysia Seoul office is planning to continue this activity with other Korean airlines including Air Busan and Jeju Air with an increased number of flights in August 2021.
“Flight to nowhere is the closest thing to travel abroad and it accommodates travel-starved travellers,” said Noredah Othman, General Manager of Sabah Tourism Board.
“We welcome Koreans to visit us again once the international travel borders reopen,” she added.
With most international flights suspended or severely reduced over a year due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs in Korea has been supporting aviation and tourism by permitting ‘flights to nowhere’ and it has proven incredibly popular among people who feel nostalgic for the pre-pandemic days.
Sabah has been one of the top holiday destinations in Southeast Asia among the South Koreans prior to the pandemic outbreak. Nearly 400,000 South Koreans were recorded visiting Sabah in 2019 with 67 direct flights departing from Incheon, Busan, and Muan to Kota Kinabalu.