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Transport Minister Sends Off AirAsia?s Maiden Tianjin Flight

2nd April 2009 - 08:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Passengers on AirAsia’s inaugural flight to Tianjin, China today were given a VIP farewell when Malaysia’s Transport Minister YB Dato’ Sri Ong Tee Keat sent them off at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal here.

The ceremony featuring the rich cultural heritage between Malaysia and China marked another milestone for Asia’s leading and largest low cost carrier.

Among over 260 guests on board the historic flight were AirAsia Group CEO Dato’ Sri Tony Fernandes and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani. The D7 2603 flight took off at 8.30 am and was scheduled to touch down at Tianjin Binhai International Airport at 2.30 pm. The flight is operated by AirAsia X, the low cost long haul carrier affiliate of AirAsia.

“China is crucial to AirAsia’s expansion plan towards becoming a major player in connecting Malaysia and the greater Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region to East Asia. Kuala Lumpur-Tianjin which is AirAsia’s 7th route into China, is set to contribute towards enhancing bilateral ties between Asean and China which share long historic and cultural relations.

I am very confident that despite the gloomy global economy, China would remain an important trading and economic partner for Malaysia and the Asean region. Kuala Lumpur-Tianjin will not only benefit tourism, but also further enhance business and economic ties between the region and China,” said Fernandes.

Tianjin, located 120 km south of Beijing, is connected to the capital city by a 30-minute high-speed Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Rail service.

“The Kuala Lumpur-Tianjin route that effectively connects to Beijing, comes as a historic achievement for AirAsia that just about 3 weeks ago commenced the world’s first truly low cost long haul service between Asia and Europe with our Kuala Lumpur-London (Stansted) inaugural,” he said.

To commemorate this special occasion, AirAsia is offering special low fares online for flights to Tianjin. Standard seats on Kuala Lumpur-Tianjin are now on sale for RM250 one way until 5 April 2009, for travel between 5 May and 31 July 2009.

The 5 return weekly-flight service to Tianjin is the latest addition to AirAsia’s China route network that already comprises Macau, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Guilin and Haikou. The airline has also planned to fly to Chengdu and Xian later this year.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said: “. We are proud to be launching this direct service from Kuala Lumpur to Tianjin as it is a major step in expanding our long-haul flight network to North China destinations. Tianjin has great history and culture and is the gateway to Beijing which I am sure will be highly popular with our business and leisure guests.

We expect to see excellent traffic from Asia, Europe and Australia feeding into our flights connecting to China via Kuala Lumpur international hub. And similarly, we look forward to welcoming passengers from China to connect onto our extensive network of flights to Asean countries, Australia, India, the UK and Europe.”

The airline is operating five flights a week on the Tianjin route, using an Airbus A330 in a two-class configuration of 28 seats in XL seats and 355 in standard seats.

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