AirAsia launches cheap flights to Shenzhen

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In flight - AirAsiaAirAsia launched its Shenzhen service today with nonstop flights from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, the first routes into mainland China for the Malaysia-based budget airline founded in 1993.

Group Chief Executive Officer Dato’ Tony Fernandes Berhad of AirAsia said, “We have continued to create history by introducing flights to untapped markets as we have always believe in developing new routes and markets. AirAsia’s move to fly to Shenzhen has indeed facilitated more travelers from the Pearl Delta region to tap into AirAsia’s extensive Southeast Asia network and vice-versa. As the first special economic zone in China, Shenzhen has risen to become one of the economic powerhouses of China as well as one of the largest manufacturing base in the world.”

Behard said that AirAsia had sold more than thirty thousand seats for Shenzhen and believes that the first foray into China presents tremendous potential for the company to tap into the vast China market.

A Shenzhen-Kuala Lumpur return trip will cost around RMB2000 according to AirAsia’s online booking system, while a Shenzhen-Bangkok return will run close to RMB800, based on a middle-of-the-week departure and return.

This announcement follows a Xinhua report (via Shanghaiist) that the budget airline East Star Airlines has just become the first private airline in China to be authorized to operate international flights. According to Hubei Television, the Wuhan-based carrier will commence daily flights to Hong Kong and Macau in September with tickets for a roundtrip flight costing no more than RMB2000.

Internationally, five U.S. carriers have applied for the right to operate new nonstop flights between the United States and China beginning in March 2009.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that American Airlines applied on Monday for a route from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Beijing. Continental applied to fly between Newark, N.J. and Shanghai. U.S. Airways wants to offer nonstop flights between its hub in Philadelphia, Pa. and Beijing. Delta Air Lines is seeking an Atlanta, Ga. to Beijing and Shanghai route; and Northwest Airlines filed for service between Detroit, Mich. and Beijing and Shanghai.