SIBU, Jan 4 — China Eastern Airlines will introduce a new route from Nanjing to Sabah and Sarawak in June, offering flights between Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, said Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

According to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, this makes this flight the first direct flight between Sarawak and China after several years.

“In June or July, China Eastern Airlines will introduce a daily return flight from Nanjing to Kuala Lumpur.


“For the Nanjing to Kuching route, services will start on June 24, with three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, using aircraft such as Boeing 737-800 or Airbus A320neo for both routes,” he said in a Facebook post tonight.

In addition, China Eastern Airlines will also gradually launch daily flights from Shanghai Pudong Airport to new destinations in Malaysia in the second half of this year, including daily flights to Penang starting July 24 and daily return flights to Kuching, Sarawak from mid-September, revealed Tiong, who is Bintulu MP.

Earlier, he disclosed that two airline companies from China, namely China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines, have confirmed to increase the return flight frequency between Malaysia and China to a minimum of 62 weekly flights per year.


“The two airlines will also open five new departure locations, which are from Beijing, Xi’an, Urumqi, Nanjing and Kunming.

“In addition, three new destinations will be added, namely Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Penang.

“Xi’an, Urumqi in particular, will serve as the main hub targeting the Muslim Chinese market.”

Following an official visit to China last year, Tiong said he had received information from China Eastern Airlines and its subsidiary, Shanghai Airlines regarding the upcoming new flight routes.

In a press release today, he stated that according to Shanghai Airlines statistics, since the Malaysian government implemented visa exemptions for Chinese tourists, the number of Chinese passengers coming to Malaysia increased by 45 per cent in a month until Dec 31 (last year), while Malaysian passengers to China increased by 23 per cent.

“Based on this trend, it is evident that the implementation of visa exemptions for visits between Malaysia and China has been positively received by the citizens of both countries.

“Airlines have gained confidence and at the same time, have taken follow-up measures by increasing flights and opening new routes to meet the high demand in the market, and at the same time increase the number of visits between citizens of the two countries this year.”

Tiong also said immediate action will be taken by adding existing Shanghai Airlines flights, especially the Shanghai Pudong Airport route to Kuala Lumpur.

“Starting from January 19, the number of flights will increase to 21 compared to 17 before, with three flights a day, using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner which is more suitable for the journey.”

He added that from Jan 26, China Eastern Airlines will start flights between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, with one return flight every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, using an Airbus A330 aircraft.

“I have also made a proposal and hope that China Eastern Airlines can consider increasing the flight frequency to once a day as soon as possible according to market demand after the route is opened”.

Regarding the new Urumqi to Kuala Lumpur route, Tiong said China Eastern Airlines plans to operate charter flights as early as May and as late as July, with three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

After the initial three months of charter flights, they plan to switch to daily scheduled round-trip flights during the Hajj season, he added.

He also said that the airline will also open direct flights from Kunming to Kuala Lumpur, starting Feb 1, with one return flight every day.

“After that, on March 25, they will launch the Xi’an to Kuala Lumpur route, initially with one flight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and then, starting from July 1, will be changed to daily return flights,” he informed.

“If these additional flights can be implemented as scheduled and the new route is approved, the two airlines will operate 73 weekly flights from China to Malaysia, with a weekly passenger capacity of over 10,000 people.”

Tiong expressed his gratitude to China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines for their active cooperation in providing this flight service.

“I would also like to thank Tourism Malaysia and various agencies for their joint efforts.

“At the same time, I call on Malaysians and local tour operators to prepare for the stark increase in Chinese tourists.” — Borneo Post