AirAsia launches KK-Shanghai route

KOTA KINABALU: AirAsia celebrated its inaugural flight from this city to Shanghai in China with a full passenger load, marking a great start into the Lunar New Year.

The flight AK1516 departed from Kota Kinabalu International Airport at 9.30pm on Tuesday (Feb 20), and landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 2am the following day.

There is no time difference between Malaysia and China.

Its returning flight AK1517 from Shanghai to here, which recorded over 90% passenger load, was greeted with a celebratory water salute upon arrival.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Julinus Jeffrey Jimit were among those present to greet the guests.

In her welcoming speech, Liew expressed her appreciation to AirAsia for continuously boosting tourism opportunities in the state, especially from the fast-growing Chinese market.

"We are thrilled to welcome the inaugural flight from Shanghai today (Feb 21). It is heartening to know that this is the 11th international route that the airline operates to Sabah with three flights weekly," she said.

She said STB recorded a 1,119% increase in tourist arrivals from China between 2022 and 2023.

"This is a great start to the auspicious Year of the Dragon," she added.

Bo Lingam, group chief executive officer of AirAsia Aviation Group, the full occupancy rate of the inaugural flight showed a strong demand and enthusiasm for this new route.

"We are pleased to celebrate the inauguration of our services and look forward to continuing to facilitate more affordable connectivity between the two popular destinations of Kota Kinabalu and Shanghai in the future," he said.

He said AirAsia’s services to China would continue to grow to support the government’s target of attracting five million tourists from China.

Shanghai is the sixth Chinese destination accessible from here. The others are Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing and Wuhan.

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