Friday, January 06, 2017

More China, Taiwan tourists due in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu: Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is usually busier as the festive season approaches but it will get a lot more crowded this year – thanks to some 38 chartered flights bringing in thousands of holidaymakers from China.

The number of Taiwanese tourist arrivals also recorded double digit growth last year and the trend is expected to continue this year with the commencement of Malindo Air's four weekly direct flights from Kota Kinabalu to Taipei.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Pang Nyuk Ming said the China flights would be coming in between Jan. 14 and Feb. 11. "They chartered the flights from Malindo Air and the tourists will come from six cities in the southern part of China, including Chengdu and Zhenzhou.

"The Government thank Malindo Air. This also showed that Sabah is capable of attracting foreign tourists because of our many internationally renowned tourist attractions," he said.

Malindo Air Chief Executive Officer Chandran Rama Muthy said the airline also has a few chartered flights between KK and Narita in Japan and they are seriously thinking of opening the route in the future.

The premium airline which started operation about four years ago currently has 42 airplanes in its fleet and will be adding 10 more before the year is out for a grand total of 52 planes.

"We have 800 flights travelling weekly to over 40 destinations in 13 countries and this year, we are now offering a 20 per cent discount on all destinations to passengers aged 60 and above.

So I urge senior citizens to take up this opportunity and travel," he said. Commenting on the KL-KK route, Chandran said he was impressed by the people's support of the airline and announced it would be increasing frequency from three to six weekly flights.

The route is consistently registering between 70 and 75 per cent load factor.

"We always wanted to make Kota Kinabalu as our secondary hub after Kuala Lumpur.

Thus, by the first quarter of this year, we are also going to open two routes between Kota Kinabalu and Kuching and add two more between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu," he said.

He added that Kota Kinabalu is ideal as the main hub for Borneo because of its geographical location and ready facilities.