Busan-Kuala Lumpur route coming

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Busan-Kuala Lumpur route coming

AirAsia X, the long-haul arm of the region’s biggest low-cost carrier Air Asia, will launch a flight this summer between Busan and Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysia-based long-haul budget airline held a press conference in Seoul yesterday to announce the service will begin from July 15 with four weekly flights connecting Gimhae International Airport in Busan and Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The route will use the Airbus A330-300 with 377 seats.

It will be AirAsia X’s second route to Korea. The company has operated a daily Seoul-Kuala Lumpur flight since November.

“AirAsia X’s entry into Busan is in line with our strategy of adding flight frequencies and destinations to a few priority Asia-Pacific markets, like Korea,” said AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani. “Guests from Busan will now be able to fly to Malaysia and thereafter use Kuala Lumpur as a gateway to more than 85 destinations in Southeast Asia and beyond.”

To mark the opening of the new route, AirAsia X will offer a one-way ticket for 60,000 won ($53) available online for booking through April 28.

Osman-Rani said that dynamics between Malaysians and Busan are a “match made in heaven,” referring to the fact that Busan has the world’s largest shopping mall and Malaysians are avid shoppers.

“As a Malaysian, you need good food, and Busan has an amazing, fantastic seafood cuisine,” he said. “While most Malaysians will invade shopping malls there, natural scenery in Busan is also unique.”

The 41-year-old Malaysia-born CEO also said the new route will cement the relationship between the two countries and help the regional economy.

“We estimate more than 60 percent of AirAsia X passengers to and from Busan will be first-time visitors, which will contribute significantly to tourism growth,” he said. “Guests from Malaysia and surrounding regions can also fly to Busan via the Kuala Lumpur hub or use Busan as a gateway to beautiful Jeju Island which is only an hour away by flight.”

According to data from the Busan Tourism Organization, the number of Malaysia inbound tourists has been increasing. Last year, about 170,000 people visited the southern port city, 20,000 more than in 2011.

“I’m delighted that such a world-renowned airline decided to open a new operation in Busan,” said Ohm Kyong-sop, the president of Busan Tourism Organization. “The relationship between North and South Korea is attracting more and more attention, but this will be a breakthrough during this hard time for the Korea tourism industry.”

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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