Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Tourism Board (STB) General Manager Gordon Yapp said Xiamen Airlines' inaugural direct flight from Fuzhou to Kota Kinabalu last Monday which marked this city as its official gateway city to East Malaysia and the scheduled commencement of Malindo Air's four weekly direct flights to Taipei shows Sabah is capable of luring more foreign tourists because of our many internationally tourist attractions.
The number of Taiwanese tourist arrivals 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," he said.
He added that 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," he added.
Qouting general manager of Xiamen Airlines Guo Yuan, Gordon said the three times weekly non-stop three-and-a-half-hour flight between the cities will not only create a convenient channel for Chinese nationals to enjoy a short holiday escape in a popular tourist destination, but also connect East Malaysia to its newest Amsterdam and New York airline destinations.
"So far, most of the booking is 80pc from Fuzhou on this route. More and more Chinese nationals are interested to visit Sabah," the STB general manager stressed.
Last Monday, Xiamen Airlines' Boeing 737-800 aircraft landed at KKIA around 5.45pm with an almost full load of 155 passengers, whilst the returning flight, scheduled to depart to Fuzhou at 6.35pm had a 60pc load factor.
"Southeast Asia is Xiamen Airlines' all time strategic market. It is our great honour to have this opportunity to contribute to the economic development, cultural exchange as well as the mutual cooperation as an airline company. The new route is expected to continue the growing passenger visits from China to Malaysia," Guo said during the ceremony.
The airline, based in the city of Xiamen of Fujian Province, China, operates other non-stop flights between Fujian and Kuala Lumpur.
Gordon said he was informed that Malindo Airline has a few chartered flights between Kota Kinabalu and Narita in Japan and is now seriously thinking of opening the route in the future.
He also said Malindo Airline is looking into making Kota Kinabalu as its secondary hub after Kuala Lumpur.
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.
Continue reading at: Things looking up for Sabah tourism.