KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is expected to receive more tourists from China with the launch of direct daily flights from here to Wuhan by budget carrier AirAsia.
The low-cost carrier launched its inaugural flight from here to China's central Wuhan province at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on Friday.
Some 120 passengers from here were sent off by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun as they boarded the maiden four-hour flight to Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, at 7pm.
With promotional all-in fares from as low as RM249 one way from here to Wuhan, AirAsia said it was already seeing strong bookings of up to 70 per cent till March.
AirAsia Berhad head of commercial operations Spencer Lee said the airline was confident that Chinese tourist arrivals into Sabah would continue to grow through the commencement of this route.
"Our latest route from Kota Kinabalu to Wuhan is part of our initiative and commitment towards developing Sabah as a gateway for tourists from China into Sabah and Sarawak," he added.
Masidi said that following AirAsia's maiden flight to Wuhan, there were now 61 flights between the state capital and China every week.
"Last year, AirAsia flew 3.8 million passengers to and from Sabah, which is the highest number by a single airline and this had contributed greatly to the state's economy.