AirAsia says it is confident its newly launched routes between Kota Kinabalu and Beijing and Macau will be successful after both inaugural flights showed load factors exceeding 90 per cent.

The maiden flight from Beijing on 2 July recorded 172 guests (92 per cent full) and the inaugural flight from Macau on 16 July welcomed 169 guests (93 per cent full).

AirAsia’s mid-haul airline, AirAsia X (AAX), also recorded an almost perfect load factor for its first flight from Chengdu (Tianfu) to Kuala Lumpur on 1 July with 376 passengers (99 per cent full).

Based on increasing forward demand, AAX has since increased the frequency on Chengdu-KL from twice weekly to thrice weekly.

AirAsia Malaysia (AK) currently flies 14 routes to/from China with over 104 flights weekly from KL to Guilin, Quanzhou, Guangzhou, Kunming, Shenzhen, Nanning, Shantou and Macao; Kota Kinabalu to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Beijing and Macau; and Johor Bahru to Guangzhou.

AirAsia X Malaysia (D7) currently flies four routes to/from China with over 22 flights weekly from KL to Chengdu (Tianfu), Beijing (Daxing), Shanghai, and Hangzhou.

Commenting on the new Kota Kinabalu routes, Sabah minister of tourism, culture and environment, YB Datuk Christina Liew said: “The tourism scene is moving fast towards recovery, especially from China since its border reopening this year, and we are pleased to continue working with AirAsia to welcome more travellers into the state.

“The impressive load factors from AirAsia will not only foster stronger international relations and open up new opportunities for economic growth and cultural exchanges for Sabah as a whole, but also bring us a step closer to achieving our aim of registering more 2.2 million tourist arrivals this year.

“AirAsia’s daily flights from Beijing (Daxing) and four weekly flights from Macao will add to the current 100 international flights weekly into Sabah. This signifies that we are on the right course for a steady tourism recovery, and we welcome AirAsia’s commitment in increasing its flight frequencies and launching more flight services in support of the government’s relentless efforts to boost the tourism industry in Sabah.”

AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer, Riad Asmat, said: “We are proud to continuously contribute to the tourism industry in Sabah. Kota Kinabalu has always been an important hub for us, and our Sabah network growth plays a significant role in our recovery strategy.

Currently we operate 21 domestic and international routes to the state with a total of 300 flights weekly to/from Sabah, now with the addition of daily flights to/from Beijing and four weekly flights to/from Macao.”