Low-cost, long-haul carrier AirAsia X has announced it will inaugurate flights between its Kuala Lumpur International Airport base in Malaysia and Shanghai’s Pu Dong International Airport, its fourth destination in China and the 14th location in the Greater China region to be served by the wider AirAsia group of companies.
AirAsia X will introduce a six times weekly service on the route from February 19, 2013, increasing to a daily schedule from May 1, 2013, adding to its existing flights from the Malaysian capital to Chengdu, Hangzhou and most recently Beijing. The Shanghai route will be flown using an Airbus A330-300 configured with 12 Premium flatbed seats and 365 Economy seats.
The long-haul budget carrier made its debut in the Chinese market in February 2008 when it commenced flights between Kuala Lumpur and Hangzhou. Services to Tianjin followed from April 2009 and Chengdu from December 2009, while flights to the capital city, Beijing, began in June this year at the expense of its connection to Tianjin. In 2011 an estimated 2.41 million O&D passengers flew between Malaysia and China, with AirAsia X accounting for an 18.0 per cent share of this traffic. Its sister carrier AirAsia is actually the market leader between the two countries with a 31.1 per cent share of the estimated O&D traffic last year.
“Barely five months since we launched our first flight into the heart of China-Beijing, AirAsia X is spreading its wings further into the People’s Republic of China, with the announcement of Shanghai, one of the world’s largest cities by population,” said Azran Osman-Rani, Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia X at the official announcement of the new route at the Mansion Hotel in Shanghai this week.
“With over 23 million populations in Shanghai city, we foresee strong demand for the route where guests may take the opportunity to visit Malaysia and use AirAsia X as a gateway to the many exotic, and exciting destinations across the region through our strong group network. We are confident that this route will stimulate new travel demand and boost tourism and business potential of both countries,” he added.
Located in the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the middle of the Chinese coast. A global city with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport, Shanghai is also a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden, as well as the extensive and growing Lujiazui skyline. It has been described as the "showpiece" of the booming economy of mainland China.
The Kuala Lumpur – Shanghai route is already served by Malaysia Airlines on a daily basis using a Boeing 777-200 and by China Eastern Airlines on a twice daily basis using an Airbus A320. The second rotation from China Eastern is a recent addition for the winter 2012/2013 schedule and was launched on October 28, 2012.
In 2011 an estimated 295,000 O&D passengers travelled between Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, but AirAsia X also expects to generate some additional transfer passengers on its services via Kuala Lumpur International Airport and is offering special ‘Fly-thru’ flight options from Shanghai to Australia (Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Gold Coast), Indonesia (Medan, Surabaya, Bali, Jakarta), Thailand (Bangkok, Chiangmai, Phuket, Krabi,) Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) and Singapore on its own and other AirAsia services.
As mentioned above, jointly as a Group, Malaysia AirAsia and AirAsia X, Thai AirAsia and Philippines AirAsia, will now serve 14 different points in China, and alongside services to Hong Kong and Macau, it already flies to Hangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, Guilin, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Nanning, Kunming, Wuhan, Chongqing and Xian in mainland China.