Russian carrier Vladivostok Air is to operate a seasonal series of 15 charter flights linking its home base in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok with the popular Malaysian holiday destinations of Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi. The flights, which will operate via the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and will be flown in partnership with Malaysian tour agency Tourism Vacation Resources Sdn Bhd.
The first flight is scheduled to operate on December 17, 2012 and will continue through to March 26, 2013. Nine return flights will operate to Kota Kinabalu and six to Langkawi and these will be operated using either Tupolev Tu-204-300 or Airbus A320 equipment. Vladivostok Air configures its Tu-204-300 fleet with eight Business Class and 134 Economy seats, while its A320s are slightly larger with space for 12 Business Class and 138 Economy passengers.
According to Malaysia’s Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, the new air services will support an anticipated increase in Russian visitor numbers to Malaysia. In the first half of this year there was a 28 per cent rise in Russian tourist arrivals in Malaysia and the country expects to record around 45,000 visitors from the country during the full year, up from 38,918 in 2011.
“The direct chartered flights will give us a boost in terms of attracting more Russian tourists to the country especially for long vacations to escape the winter season there,” explained Dr Ng. “Our beautiful vacation spots and beaches all over the country, like those in Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu, are a major draw for Russian tourists.
“They like to stay for up to eight to nine days there. Our main selling point is that we are able to give them warm and really nice places to escape the long winter in their country. We' would also like them to make Malaysia their second home while waiting for winter to end,” she added.
There are currently no direct air links between Russia and Malaysia although Aeroflot previously provided non-stop services between Moscow Sheremetyevo and Kuala Lumpur between October 1998 and March 2001, and Transaero Airlines offered seasonal services between the Malaysian capital and Moscow Domodedovo between December 2011 and May 2012.
According to Dr Ng, Vladivostok is a logical location to begin new ties between Russia and the Malaysian destinations of Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi due to its geographic position. Flight times are estimated to be six and a half hours and eight hours and forty minutes, respectively, said the Tourism Minister. “This is an untapped route and I see a lot of potential in this partnership. This will not only bring in more tourist arrivals from Russia, but will also strengthen the friendly ties between our two countries,” she added.