Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has overseen the launch of AirAsia’s new direct flight connecting Langkawi with mainland China.
The low-cost carrier recently commenced the first ever non-stop route connecting the Malaysian resort island with Shenzhen, the fast-growing city in the Pearl River Delta. Flights will now operate three times a week. This marks the latest stage of AirAsia’s expansion at Langkawi, which became its sixth Malaysian international hub in 2016.
The PM met with AirAsia’s group CEO Tony Fernandes at Langkawi International Airport, who said that the airline’s expansion at the hub had been made possible by the reduction of airport tax at Langkawi.
“Last year… [the] Prime Minister launched our direct flights from Guangzhou to Langkawi, an island that has promised so much but has never lived up to its full potential. Leadership takes courage and it is with courageous leadership that Dato’ Sri Najib supported AirAsia in reducing the airport tax which for years Malaysian Airports had resisted this,” said Fernandes.
“Today, we see that value of his brave leadership. Direct international tourists have increased from 83,754 passengers in 2015 to 187,433 passengers in 2016 – an increase of 120% in growth. This represent a contribution of MYR300 million (US$70m) to GDP, based on the 12 times multiplier effect.
“2016 was the first year international tourists outnumbered domestic tourists. We are driven by this and already this year we have flown over one million tourists to Langkawi with our 238 weekly flights from Langkawi. But we want to get to the three million mark and contribute a large part to the Langkawi Development Authority’s (LADA) target of MYR9 billion revenue. Our vision is that we will make Langkawi as connected as Phuket, if not greater,” he added.
AirAsia now flies to seven destinations from Langkawi, including three international services to Singapore, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
The launch follows coincides with the 10th anniversary of AirAsia’s flights to Shenzhen, which first commenced in 2007 with direct flights from Kuala Lumpur and later Kota Kinabalu.