SEOUL, 2 August 2021: A total of 96 passengers embarked on a Flight to Nowhere last week that took off from Incheon International Airport to present a Kota Kinabalu Sabah-themed experience during the special flight.

Flights to nowhere, also known as scenic flights or sightseeing flights, give participants a chance to relive the airport and flight experience that they have been missing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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’ programme. Jin Air has taken this opportunity to operate the flight, and Sabah state in Malaysia has been selected as the 4th 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 25 July. Departing at 1240 from Incheon International Airport, the flight route takes the passengers over Daegu, Busan, and partially into Japanese airspace before returning to Seoul at 1430.

The Kota Kinabalu-themed sightseeing flight featured inflight services and activities. Passengers received 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 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, Malaysia as a top-of-mind tourist destination,” said Shaharuddin Yahya, Director of Tourism Malaysia Korea. Given the success of the first flight, Sabah Tourism, together with Tourism Malaysia’s Seoul office, will plan similar projects with Korean airlines, including Air Busan and Jeju Air, during August 2021.

“Flight to nowhere is the closest thing to travel abroad and it accommodates travel-starved travellers,” said  Sabah Tourism Board general manager Noredah Othman. “We welcome Koreans to visit us again once the international travel borders reopen.”

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 support aviation and tourism by permitting flights to nowhere, and it has proven incredibly popular among people who feels nostalgic for the pre-pandemic days.

Sabah has been one of the top holiday destinations in Southeast Asia among South Koreans prior to the pandemic outbreak. Nearly 400,000 South Koreans visited Sabah in 2019, with 67 direct flights departing from Incheon, Busan, and Muan to Kota Kinabalu.

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