PUTRAJAYA: China Eastern Airlines has become the latest international airline to operate daily direct flights from Kunming, China to Kuala Lumpur, with its inaugural flight today.

In a statement, Tourism Malaysia said the new route by China Eastern Airlines connects Kunming to Kuala Lumpur on an Airbus A320neo with a seating capacity of 148 passengers.

“This adds to the existing 18 weekly flights by other carriers from the Yunnan Province, southwest of China,” it said.

Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, who welcomed the passengers on board flight MU9629 arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Terminal 1) from Kunming, said the new additional route was a great opportunity to bring in more tourists from China’s second-tier cities.

“...especially now with our visa-free policy for Chinese travellers to Malaysia. We continue to amplify our promotional efforts in showcasing Malaysia’s rich heritage and warm hospitality to one of our top markets through Tourism Malaysia’s overseas offices in China,” he said.

The visa-free policy for Chinese travellers to Malaysia, effective Dec 1, 2023 until Dec 31, 2024, has seen a significant increase in bookings to Malaysia.

In 2023, Malaysia welcomed 1.47 million arrivals from China, an exponential growth of 593.4 percent compared to the same period in 2022 with 212,603 arrivals. -Bernama