KOTA KINABALU, Aug 5 — Two Chinese airlines are eager to restart direct flights into Sabah once China fully reopens its borders, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Arifin today.
He said that China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines are expected to resume their pre-pandemic flight schedule as soon as they are able to.
"Some of the positive reactions we’ve received is that Chinese tourists are also impatient for their international borders to be reopened and to travel to Sabah again,” said Jafry, adding that the latter was dependent on the ongoing Covid-19 situation in China.
He said this after meeting with executives from the airlines including China Southern Airlines general manager Eric Wang, China Eastern Airlines general manager Lu Jing, China Air general manager Yin Jian Min and Xiamen Airlines sales manager Gao Yashuang at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Jafry said that foreign tourists, particularly those from China, were essential to Sabah’s tourism industry.
For the record, China makes up the majority of foreign travellers coming into Sabah, with 593,623 tourists out of 3.88 million in 2018, and 598,566 out of 4.1 million in 2019, before Covid-19 triggered a global lockdown.