Malaysia-China air links expected to grow

Face-to-face meeting: Liow addressing about 60 Malaysian students in Shanghai during an event on Sunday night.

SHANGHAI: Air connectivity between Malaysia and China is expected to grow following interest expressed by several Chinese airlines to fly to Kuala Lumpur and other cities, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

Liow, who is in China for a five-day working visit, met representatives from the Juneyao Group and China Eastern Airlines Co Ltd here yesterday to discuss the establishment of more direct flights between the two countries.

"The direct flights will increase the number of visitors from China to Malaysia, which is a key performance indicator of the Transport Ministry and Tourism Ministry," he said yesterday.

Liow said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd would waive landing fees for the airlines for three years.

China Eastern Airlines, which flies from Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur four times a week, plans to increase the frequency while exploring more destinations such as Langkawi, Penang and Kota Kinabalu.

Airline president Ma Xulun said the company had seen encouraging demand for flights to Langkawi and Penang.

Juneyao is interested to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

Air China Ltd told Liow on Friday that it was keen to resume the Beijing-Kuala Lumpur route.

Liow and his delegation, which included Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, also visited the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and the Zhendong Container Terminal of the Shanghai International Port.

Liow said transshipment connections could be set up between the Shanghai port and Malaysian ports, including Port Klang and Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

During a meeting with about 60 Malaysian students in Shanghai on Sunday night, Liow encouraged them to return to Malaysia to contribute to the nation's economic transformation.

In Beijing, a group of families of Chinese passengers who had been on board the missing MH370 gathered in front of the Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday to demand the re-opening of the family support centre, which was shut down following a year of operations at Shunyi in the outskirts of Beijing.

Liow said Malaysia Airlines would continue to take care of the needs of the next of kin.