AirAsia Malaysia has begun flying from its Kuala Lumpur hub to Perth, marking the first time the carrier has operated direct flights to Australia. 

The daily flights utilise the longer range of its Airbus A321neos and are in addition to the existing service of sister medium-haul unit AirAsia X, which it flies daily using A330s to the Western Australia city. 

AirAsia A321neo

Source: AirAsia

AirAsia Aviation chief Bo Lingam says: “Thanks to the addition of the new model A321neo aircraft with longer range capabilities spanning over five hours and numerous operational efficiencies, we are able to make these new services a reality on a narrowbody aircraft from Kuala Lumpur so that more of our guests can travel to Australia affordably.”

The airline is also set to resume operations to Pattaya in Thailand, with thrice-weekly flights to commence 17 June. The route is AirAsia’s seventh link between Thailand and Malaysia, with other points including Bangkok Don Mueang, Hat Yai and Chiang Mai. 

AirAsia Malaysia is the only airline to operate between Pattaya’s U-tapao airport and Kuala Lumpur. The airline will continue to study other possible operations to Thailand’s second-tier cities, adds Lingam. 

Separately, Taiwan’s two largest carriers have also disclosed plans to expand their networks. China Airlines will start flights to Seattle from 14 July, with five weekly flights operated by A350-900s. 

Seattle is the SkyTeam carrier’s sixth North American point. It serves New York, Los Angeles, Ontario and San Francisco in the USA, and Vancouver in Canada. 

China Airlines A359

Source: Alfred Chua/FlightGlobal

China Airlines’ launch of direct flights between Taipei and Seattle means the route will be operated by all three Taiwanese carriers. EVA Air already flies daily between the two cities, while Starlux Airlines is looking to launch flights in August. 

EVA Air, meanwhile, launched flights between Kaohsiung and Hong Kong. The route is served daily, but frequency will be doubled from 15 May. 

Kaohsiung is the second Taiwanese city to be linked to Hong Kong, with EVA Air currently operating flights from Taipei Taoyuan. 

China Eastern Airlines, the launch customer and sole operator of the Comac C919, has begun deploying the narrowbody jet on its third domestic route. 

From 8 March, the Shanghai-based carrier has launched twice-daily C919 flights between Shanghai Hongqiao and Xi’an in western China. It also uses the type on flights to Beijing Daxing and Chengdu Tianfu airports. 

Korean low-cost carrier T’way Air will commence flights between Busan and Nha Trang from 1 May, boosting its operations to the Vietnamese city. T’way also operates flights from Seoul and Cheongju to Nha Trang. 

On the long-haul front, Vietnam Airlines will launch operations to Munich airport from 2 October – its fourth European point. 

The SkyTeam carrier will fly to the German city from 2 October, with twice daily flights each from Ho Chi Minh City and capital Hanoi. It will deploy its Boeing 787-9s on the route.