KOTA KINABALU, 22 February 2024: In conjunction with the Lunar New Year, AirAsia celebrated its inaugural flight from Kota Kinabalu to Shanghai with a 100% passenger load, continuing to soar high in the prosperous Year of the Dragon.

The inaugural flight AK1516 departed from Kota Kinabalu International Airport at 0930 on Tuesday, 20 February and landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 0200 (local time) on the following morning, 21 February. 

On the return flight, the airline also welcomed the inaugural flight AK1517 from Shanghai to Kota Kinabalu with more than 90%  load. Together with Sabah Tourism Board CEO Jeffrey Jimit, the aircraft was greeted with a water cannon salute. 

Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew said: “We are thrilled to welcome AirAsia’s inaugural flight from Shanghai. It is heartening to know that this is the 11th international route the airline operates to Sabah, with three weekly flights.  

“We truly appreciate AirAsia’s efforts in continuously boosting tourism opportunities in the state, especially from the fast-growing Chinese market. As the airline with the most routes flying in and out of Sabah, AirAsia has provided affordable travel for all and a welcome boost to our economy with many spin-off effects, including job creation.  

“Sabah Tourism Board (STB)  saw an incredible increase of 1,119% in tourist arrivals from China between 2022 and 2023. The continuous commitment by AirAsia to launch new routes and grow its services delivers significant tourism and economic opportunities between Malaysia and China. This is a great start to the auspicious Year of the Dragon in the Chinese Lunar New Year.”

AirAsia Aviation Group CEO Bo Lingam said: “As China’s largest foreign low-cost carrier, we recognise this route’s immense potential. It comes at a perfect time, coinciding with a surge in tourism during the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival and following the ongoing visa-free initiative between both nations. Our services to China are continuing to grow in line with strong demand. This additional new route serves as a significant opportunity for us to support the Malaysian government’s ambition of attracting five million tourists from China. 

“We are confident this new route will prove popular and are encouraged to share that our inaugural flight recorded full passenger occupancy, demonstrating the strong early demand and enthusiasm for this new service. We look forward to continuing to facilitate even more affordable connectivity between the two popular destinations in the future.”

Operated by AirAsia Malaysia (AK), Shanghai is the sixth destination in Mainland China accessible from Kota Kinabalu, following Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Wuhan.

For more information on Sabah visit www.sabahtourism.com.

(Source: AirAsia)


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