Under this new policy, Chinese and Indian nationals will enjoy a visa-free stay of up to 30 days, subject to security screening, said the Malaysian Prime Minister

As soon as Malaysia made visa-free travel available for Indian passport holders, here is a list of flights through which you can travel to the country.

Malaysia has made a remarkable announcement, offering visa-free travel not only to Chinese citizens but also to Indians. While Indian tourists have returned to a considerable extent, the same cannot be said for Chinese tourists, and both have not yet reached pre-COVID levels. India is the fifth-largest source market for Malaysia.

Malaysia has always been tourist-friendly, and the process of obtaining a tourist visa has been simple. The cost has also not been prohibitive. The announcement of visa-free travel increases interest among tourists, and the desire to travel to neighboring countries also grows.

Which flights connect you to Malaysia?

Malaysia is one of the select countries where Malaysian carriers have terminated their rights over India, and the use of Indian carriers is minimal. Currently, only one daily flight is operated by IndiGo from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur.

Four Malaysian carriers – Malaysia Airlines, Batik Air Malaysia (formerly Malindo), AirAsia Berhad, and AirAsia X – offer more than 170 weekly departures from 11 points in India. These include all six metro cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad – along with five destinations under the India-ASEAN Open Skies agreement. These points are Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Trichy, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram.

Malaysian carriers are rapidly expanding their presence in India. Malaysia Airlines recently started flights to Amritsar, and soon flights will resume for Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram. AirAsia has announced flights to Trivandrum.

As Indian carriers expand their horizons and carriers from other countries like Vietnam enter Indian markets, there will be increasing competition for centers like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. The visa-free arrangement will help Malaysian carriers overcome this competition.

There are 42 weekly frequencies from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur, 23 weekly from Delhi and Kochi, 22 weekly from Trichy, 18 weekly from Bengaluru, 15 each from Mumbai and Hyderabad, 11 weekly from Amritsar, 10 weekly from Kolkata, and twice a week from Ahmedabad and Trivandrum.

IndiGo operates seven weekly flights from Chennai, and the remaining 176 Malaysian frequencies are operated by Malaysian carriers. In the future, there will be direct flights to Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam, and Goa.

With the permission to operate flights for 18 destinations under the ASEAN Open Sky policy, connecting more flights from Malaysian airlines will be a remarkable development.

India’s stance remains somewhat weak.

Currently, IndiGo is the only airline operating seven weekly flights to Malaysia. This airline used to operate flights to Kuala Lumpur from Delhi and Bengaluru but hasn’t resumed those routes since then. The struggle with the shortage of IndiGo aircraft indicates that choosing the most profitable route for the airline’s return is likely.

Air India Express has also operated flights to Kuala Lumpur in the past, as has Jet Airways. This market is a mix of travelers transferring between Asia and Australia and Indian expatriates primarily centered around Tamil Nadu. At some point before COVID, Trichy and Kuala Lumpur had the maximum frequency between India and Malaysia.

Side Note: Malaysia has become a second choice for those travelers who usually pair it with a trip to Singapore. While Singapore is a city-state, Thailand has developed tourism beyond Bangkok with Phuket and Krabi, becoming popular destinations for Indians.

On the other hand, Malaysia hasn’t been able to position itself in that league, as tourism is largely limited to Kuala Lumpur. The islands of Penang and Langkawi don’t have the same allure.

As Indians loosen their purse strings, countries are trying to attract more and more travelers. The visa-free arrangement ensures last-minute travel in the extended weekends. Will Indian carriers add flights? It might be a good time for Air India Express to re-enter the market!

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