AirAsia: Over 5 million seats between China, India and Malaysia in 2024

A line-up of parked AirAsia Airbus A320s.
Photo Credit: AirAsia

AirAsia has unveiled plans to dramatically boost its services between China-Malaysia and India-Malaysia, propelling the airline into a new era of connectivity.

This decision embraces a remarkable 230 weekly flights, set to take off in the first quarter of 2024, boasting an impressive capacity of up to 5.2 million seats annually.

The Surge in Travel Demand

The surge in capacity, orchestrated by AirAsia Malaysia (AK) and AirAsia X Malaysia (D7), is in direct response to an expected wave of heightened travel demand.

This surge is anticipated to follow the Malaysian government’s recent proclamation of a 30-day visa-free entry for travelers from China and India starting on December 1, 2023.

This game-changing initiative coincides with the relaxation of travel restrictions for Malaysians heading to China, effective from the same date.

An AirAsia X aircraft at Kuala Lumpur Airport
Arnaud-Victor Monteux, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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The Role of Malaysian Government

Tony Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia, expressed his gratitude towards the Malaysian government, particularly Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, for spearheading this forward-thinking initiative.

Fernandes emphasized the impact of the 30-day visa-free entry, foreseeing it as a catalyst for bolstering Malaysia’s tourism and economy.

He stated, “AirAsia has been at the forefront of trying to make visiting Malaysia easier,” highlighting the positive economic impact anticipated during the upcoming peak travel season.

An AirAsia X Airbus A330 taxis after landing.
Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0 AU, via Wikimedia Commons

Economic Catalyst: AirAsia and Regional Growth

Bo Lingam, CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group Limited, sees this surge in services as more than just an increase in flight capacity. Lingam envisions it as an opportunity to enhance regional connectivity in two of their largest markets, acting as a catalyst for significant economic growth.

With an estimated 4.6 million guests expected to traverse their extensive network of 26 routes in China and India in 2024 alone, AirAsia is poised to play a pivotal role in achieving Malaysia’s ambitious tourism target of 25 million international tourists annually.

As the largest foreign low-cost carrier in China, both AirAsia Malaysia (AK) and AirAsia X Malaysia (D7) currently operate 17 routes into the country, offering a total of 156 weekly flights.

Destinations include key cities like Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Kunming, Guilin, Nanning, Shantou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.

Additionally, AirAsia Malaysia (AK) flies from Kota Kinabalu to Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Wuhan, while also connecting Johor Bahru to Guangzhou.

An AirAsia Airbus parked on the tarmac.
Aldo Bidini (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

India on the Horizon

Not stopping at China, both airlines have ramped up frequencies to nine routes in India, totaling an impressive 74 flights weekly.

AirAsia Malaysia (AK) connects Kuala Lumpur to Bengaluru, Kolkata, Cochin, Hyderabad, Chennai, Trichy, and Trivandrum, with a new destination, Trivandrum, set to commence in February 2024.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X Malaysia (D7) operates routes from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi and Amritsar, solidifying their commitment to enhancing connectivity between Malaysia and India.

Visa-Free Travel

In a reciprocal move, the China Embassy in Malaysia has announced that Malaysian citizens holding ordinary passports can enjoy visa-free travel to China for up to 15 days.

This initiative, effective from December 1, 2023, until November 30, 2024, covers purposes such as business, tourism, family visits, and transit, further facilitating seamless travel experiences.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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