AirAsia's Inaugural Flight Marks a Prosperous Start in the Year of the Dragon

By Ivan PetrenkoFeb 22, 2024 13:30 PMNews
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Wing of an AirAsia plane against a clear sky background
Wing of an AirAsia plane against a clear sky background. Source: unsplash

AirAsia launched its first flight from Kota Kinabalu to Shanghai, achieving a remarkable 100% passenger load, heralding a prosperous commencement of the Dragon Year. The flight, symbolizing the airline's ongoing success and expansion, underscores its role in enhancing tourism and economic ties between Malaysia and China.

The flight AK1516 took off from Kota Kinabalu International Airport at 9:30 PM on February 20, 2024, and touched down at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 2:00 AM local time on February 21, 2024. The return journey also saw high demand, with flight AK1517 from Shanghai to Kota Kinabalu surpassing 90% occupancy. The arrival was celebrated with a water salute, in the presence of Julinus Jeffrey Jimit, CEO of the Sabah Tourism Board.

Datuk Christina Liew, Sabah's Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment, expressed her excitement over the launch. She highlighted the flight as the eleventh international route by AirAsia to Sabah, which now enjoys thrice-weekly services. Liew praised AirAsia's commitment to enhancing tourism in Sabah, particularly from the burgeoning Chinese market. She noted a staggering 1,119% increase in Chinese tourist arrivals from 2022 to 2023, attributing this growth to AirAsia's strategic route expansions.

Bo Lingam, Group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group, emphasized the route's potential and its timely launch during the peak of Chinese New Year celebrations. He pointed out the positive impact of the ongoing visa-free initiative between Malaysia and China, aiming to attract five million Chinese tourists. Lingam shared his optimism for the route's success, supported by the full occupancy on the inaugural flight, and expressed AirAsia's commitment to providing affordable connectivity between the two destinations.

The new route to Shanghai, the sixth Mainland China destination from Kota Kinabalu, follows successful routes to Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Wuhan. This expansion not only enhances AirAsia's network but also supports the Malaysian government's tourism goals, promising economic benefits and increased job creation within Sabah.

AirAsia's inaugural flight in the Dragon Year sets a positive tone for future growth, showcasing the airline's pivotal role in connecting cultures and fostering economic development through tourism. This initiative is a testament to the airline's dedication to affordable travel and its significant contribution to the tourism industry's recovery and growth.

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