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16 January 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah expects a much higher volume of Chinese tourists as Xiamen Airlines commenced its direct non-stop flight from Beijing to Kota Kinabalu starting today. The daily flight on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft will be Xiamen Airlines’ first ever international route from its Beijing regional hub. 

On board the flight today were Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment YB Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, His Excellency Dato’ Zainuddin Yahya, Ambassador of Malaysia to the People’s Republic of China, and notable Sabah delegates. Sabah Tourism Board as well as Malaysia Airport Berhad officials were at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport to welcome the first batch of passengers with a cultural welcome. 

“This is Xiamen Airlines’ second route to Kota Kinabalu. The Fuzhou – Kota Kinabalu flight is running at an average 80% load since it first started in January 2017. We expect the new route to contribute the growing demand Chinese and expat holiday makers to Sabah which is located within the six hour flight radius,” said Ms. Ou Dong Ying, Deputy General Manager of Xiamen Airlines. 

“There will be a strong exchange of visitors to foster good relationship between China and Sabah. China has been the main international market source for Sabah. For the last ten years, we have penetrated into the main as well as the second tier cities with a population that craves for trips to the beaches and islands which we are known for. 

Full year forecast for China arrivals in 2017 are expected to be a record-breaking 430,000 in 2017 or +14.7% increase compared to 2016. The total forecast of Sabah's overall arrivals for 2017 is expected to be 3.65 million bringing an estimated value of RM7.7 billion. Added with arrivals from other countries, makes Kota Kinabalu International Airport is one of the most profitable airports in the country,” said Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun. 

As for Malaysia Airports, managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali is delighted with the introduction of the new route and said that the organization is always very supportive towards its partner airliners. Malaysia Airports offers airlines amongst the world’s lowest aeronautical charges which enable them to operate with a lower cost base, he said. “As such, this has encouraged many of our airline partners to increase and improve their services and frequencies, giving rise to Malaysia’s continued overall growth. I am confident that this new route by Xiamen Airlines will increase the number of Chinese visitors to Kota Kinabalu as this destination has a lot to offer in terms of it natural beauty,” he further added. 

To date, Kota Kinabalu International Airport is serving seventeen international destinations including eight major Chinese cities. There are 86 flights from China weekly. Last year, the airport experienced good growth in total passenger traffic movements amounting to 7,998,097 million, which was an increase of 10.1% from 2016. International passenger traffic movements totaled 2,565,121 million in 2017, showing an increase of 21.8% from 2016.

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