AirAsia Launches Direct Kota Kinabalu to Seoul Flights

AirAsia staff and Kota Kinabalu base.
Photo Credit: AirAsia

AirAsia Malaysia (AK) celebrates a significant milestone with the launch of its new direct flight from Kota Kinabalu, its second-largest hub in Malaysia, to Seoul, South Korea.

The inaugural flight, marked by a full passenger load, furthers AirAsia’s continued drive to expand its network in Sabah.

Connecting to Seoul

With daily operations commencing on March 4th, 2024, this new route strengthens Kota Kinabalu’s position as a dynamic aviation base.

This expansion brings the total number of routes to and from Kota Kinabalu to 18, with 282 weekly flights.

This direct connection opens doors for Sabahans eager to explore the vibrant city of Seoul. Passengers can immerse themselves in the rich cultural tapestry of the city, with historical landmarks like Gyeongbokgung Palace and Cheonggyecheon Stream.

In contrast, the city also offers modern marvels like the Lotte World Tower and Seoul Sky Observatory.

Diverse culinary experiences await at bustling markets like Mangwon, offering a taste of Seoul’s vibrant food scene.

Inaugural Flight Celebration

The inaugural flight was celebrated with a lively send-off ceremony, featuring mascots and merchandise giveaways for passengers, organized by AirAsia and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

Bo Lingam, Group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group Limited, expressed his optimism: “We are thrilled to celebrate this new route with a full flight, a promising indicator of future success.”

“With over 150,000 South Korean arrivals recorded in Sabah in 2023, we aim to connect even more travelers to this beautiful destination in the year ahead.”

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Lingam further emphasizes the strategic importance of this route: “As we expand our East Malaysia hub, this addition solidifies Kota Kinabalu’s position as a dynamic aviation base, connecting nine domestic and nine international destinations.”

“South Korea has consistently been one of the top three tourist source markets for Sabah. This direct flight not only boosts tourism and trade but also strengthens cultural and economic ties between South Korea and Sabah”

“We are confident that this route will create significant mutual benefits for both regions,” he concluded.

Importance of Kota Kinabalu Hub

AirAsia’s Kota Kinabalu hub holds significant importance for the airline, as evidenced by several factors:

Second Largest Hub: It is AirAsia’s second-largest hub in Malaysia, highlighting its strategic importance within the airline’s network. This signifies Kota Kinabalu’s role in connecting passengers not just within Malaysia but also regionally and internationally.

Extensive Network: The hub boasts a network of 18 routes, offering 282 weekly flights to and from Kota Kinabalu. This extensive network demonstrates the hub’s ability to connect Sabah to various destinations, fostering both domestic and international travel.

Growth and Expansion: AirAsia’s launch of Kota Kinabalu to Seoul service highlights its commitment to growth in the region. This further signifies their confidence in Kota Kinabalu’s potential as a key aviation hub.

Economic Impact: The hub plays a crucial role in boosting Sabah’s tourism and trade sectors. By connecting the region to various destinations, AirAsia facilitates easier travel for tourists and business travelers. This in turn contributes to the local economy.

Strengthening Ties: The launch of the Seoul route not only expands travel options but also strengthens cultural and economic ties between South Korea and Sabah. This highlights the hub’s potential to act as a bridge between different regions.


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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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