AirAsia celebrates inaugural flight connecting Kota Kinabalu to Seoul

AirAsia flight crews in a photo before the inaugural KK-Seoul flight departure at KKIA on March 4, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KOTA KINABALU, March 4: AirAsia Malaysia celebrates a significant milestone for its second-biggest hub in Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, with the inaugural flight to Seoul, South Korea, boasting a full passenger load.

Starting today (March 4), operations will run daily on this new route, reflecting the airline’s ongoing expansion in Sabah. With 18 routes and 282 weekly flights, this signifies AirAsia’s commitment to the region.

The inaugural flight was commemorated with a vibrant send-off ceremony at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), attended by representatives from AirAsia, Sabah Tourism, and the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO), including mascot appearances.

A family travelling to Seoul via AirAsia’s inaugural flight from KK in a photo with the mascots at KKIA on March 4, 2024.

KTO managing director for Malaysia and Brunei Moon Sangho and its marketing director Shin Hae In also presented merchandise giveaways to guests onboard.

This direct flight enhances travel accessibility and affordability for East Malaysians, particularly Sabahans, facilitating exploration of Seoul’s rich cultural offerings, such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Cheonggyecheon Stream, iconic landmarks like Lotte World Tower and Seoul Sky Observatory, and diverse culinary experiences at Mangwon Market, among others.

In a media release, AirAsia Aviation Group Limited Group chief executive officer (CEO) Bo Lingam expressed delight in celebrating this new route with a full load, which is a great sign of things to come.

“With approximately 150,000 arrivals recorded from South Korea to Sabah in 2023, we look forward to flying even more travellers into Sabah this year.

“As we continue to grow our East Malaysia hub, this expansion reinforces Kota Kinabalu’s position as a dynamic aviation base, boasting nine domestic and nine international destinations,” he said.

As South Korea has been one of the top three market sources for tourism in Sabah, Bo Lingam emphasised that the introduction of this route will not only boost the state’s tourism and trade sectors but also strengthen the cultural and economic ties between South Korea and Sabah.

“We are confident that the addition of this route will further create significant mutual benefits for the people of South Korea and Sabah,” he added.

Passengers queing to enter the aircraft at KKIA on March 4, 2024.

In celebration of the inaugural flight, AirAsia is offering special promotional fares starting from RM389 all-in* one-way (via Kota Kinabalu) to discover Seoul. The promotional fare is available for booking starting March 5 to 17, 2024 for travel between until Oct 26, 2024, on and the AirAsia MOVE app, which was previously known as ‘airasia Superapp’.

All nationals from visa-free countries/regions, including Malaysia, are required to obtain K-ETA before entering South Korea. For travel requirements into South Korea, please refer here.

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Malaysia office, established in 2004, plays its role in attracting Malaysian tourists to Korea by organising various promotional activities for consumers and through its involvement and various collaboration with local tourism industry partners. It also serves as the key Korean liaison for local travel agencies, airlines, and media partners in promoting Korea as the top holiday destination among Malaysians. — DayakDaily

Shin (right) and Moon ready to welcome passengers on board AirAsia inaugural KK-Seoul flight at KKIA on March 4, 2024.
AirAsia inaugural KK-Seoul flight departing KKIA on March 4, 2024.