KOTA KINABALU, 7 July 2017: Malindo Air will introduce 10 direct flights weekly from China to Sabah during the summer months, a peak travel period for Chinese travellers.
Initially, the Kuala Lumpur-based airlines will operate charter flights, with all seats pre-sold to consortiums of Chinese tour operators who distribute low-priced inclusive holidays through retail travel channels.
However, the objective is to convince the airline ultimately to upgrade the charters to scheduled services.
Assistant tourism, culture and environment minister, Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, told Sabah’s Daily Express the airline was committed to delivering four weekly flights from Beijing, three from Chengdu and three from Changsa, effective next week through to 1 September.
“Once the tour market for Sabah holidays is established airlines will be more confident to upgrade to scheduled flights,” he said, during a meeting between the vice-president of All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, Qiao Wei, and Sabah’s Chinese leaders.
Pang said, Malindo Air has also been allocated 93 charter flight slots to Sabah over two months (July and August) from eight cities, namely Zhengzhou (17), Wuxi (13), Ningbo (13), Chongxing (eight), Wenzhou (13), Changsha (10), Xuzhou (10) and Xian (nine).
“The figure (93) does not include the seven weekly flights from Beijing and Chengdu as these two destinations are under a scheduled flight agreement with Sabah effective 1 July,” he added.
“Malindo Air is helping the Sabah Tourism Board to promote Sabah and for working with us to create Sabah-China connectivity as a priority,” he said.
Sabah has set itself a target to welcome 500,000 Chinese tourists a year but the challenge is to find enough resorts and hotels to cater to the market.
(Source: Daily Express)