Indonesia AirAsia re-starts Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu services

An Indonesia AirAsia flight gets a water cannon salute at Kota Kinabalu
Photo Credit: AirAsia

Low-cost carrier Indonesia AirAsia has officially reopened its flight services from Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu this week.

This marks the first international route operated by Indonesia AirAsia in 2024 and provides exclusive direct flights to Kota Kinabalu, known as the ‘Land Below the Wind.’

Catalyzing Tourism and Economic Growth

Capt. Wuri Septiawan, Director of Flight Operations at Indonesia AirAsia, emphasized the significance of this new route in bolstering international connectivity with Malaysia.

“The opening of this route signifies our commitment to enhancing the relationship between Indonesia and Malaysia,” stated Capt. Wuri during the inaugural ceremony held in Kota Kinabalu.

AirAsia’s expansion into Kota Kinabalu reflects its dedication to boosting the tourism and economic sectors of both nations.

Capt. Wuri highlighted Kota Kinabalu’s tremendous tourism potential, affirming the airline’s commitment to providing passengers with exceptional travel experiences.

With Kota Kinabalu becoming the fifth destination for direct flights from Jakarta to Malaysia by Indonesia AirAsia, travelers can now enjoy easier access to popular tourist destinations in both countries.


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Capt. Wuri further emphasized the affordability of these flights, making travel more accessible to a broader audience.

Photo Credits: AirAsia

Inaugural Flight Celebration

The inaugural flight, bearing the code QZ 526, departed from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) and received a warm welcome upon landing at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) on 6 February.

The arrival was marked by a traditional water salute, and the pilot and cabin crew on duty were also presented with traditional Sabah necklaces to commemorate the occasion.

“We are delighted to welcome Indonesia AirAsia’s inaugural flight to Kota Kinabalu. This initiative not only strengthens the relationship between the countries but also opens up new opportunities in the tourism, cultural, and economic sectors,” said Datuk Christina Liew, Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

“With this new route, we hope to welcome more Indonesian tourists to enjoy and experience the unique attractions and charming natural beauty of Sabah.”

Strengthening Bilateral Ties

The inaugural ceremony saw the participation of key figures from both Indonesia and Malaysia, underscoring the importance of this new route in fostering positive bilateral relations.

Officials expressed optimism about the opportunities it brings for tourism, cultural exchange, and economic cooperation between the two nations.

“We appreciate Indonesia AirAsia for taking this significant step, which may pave the way for positive bilateral ties between Indonesia and Malaysia.”

“This is an important move that will enhance connectivity between the two destinations and provide new opportunities for economic and tourism growth,” said Rafail Walangitan, Consul General of Republic of Indonesia in Sabah.

Beyond tourism, the launch of this flight holds promise for expanding trade between Indonesia and Malaysia.

With Malaysia ranking among the top destinations for Indonesian exports and imports, enhanced connectivity through air cargo services is poised to drive bilateral trade to new heights.

Discovering Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, affectionately known as “KK,” offers a rich tapestry of cultural diversity and natural wonders.

From museums and beaches to the iconic Mount Kinabalu, tourists are invited to explore the city’s myriad attractions, promising unforgettable experiences at every turn.

The direct route from Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu is poised to significantly boost tourism in Indonesia, aligning with the government’s ambitious targets for international visitor arrivals.

This initiative is expected to fuel economic growth and create new opportunities for collaboration in the tourism sector.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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