BHUBANESWAR, India - AirAsia marks another milestone as the first international airline in the world to operate direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bhubaneswar, India.

The airline’s latest new route offers four times weekly direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to the beautiful capital city of India’s Odisha state.

Also known as ‘Temple City of India’, Bhubaneswar is the capital of the Indian state of Odisha, formerly known as Orissa and has a population of over two million people. It has a rich history of over 3,000 years and is now a rapidly growing city with commercial districts and a buzzing tourism sector with new upscale hotels, shops and restaurants.

A reception ceremony was held at Biju Patnaik International Airport to celebrate the arrival of flight AK31 which flew in on an Airbus A320 into Bhubaneswar, India. The aircraft landed at 11.35PM last night and was greeted with a water cannon salute. Part of the guests on board the inaugural flight were Aireen Omar, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad; Datuk Zainuddin Abd Wahab, Senior Director of Tourism Malaysia as well as a group of Malaysian media who will participate in a familiarisation trip to explore the beauty of Bhubaneswar.

In conjunction with the inaugural flight, a press conference and celebration event was held today at Bhubaneswar with the attendances of Ashok Chandra Panda, The Honorable Minister of Tourism and Culture Odisha; Arti Ahuja, Principal Secretary Department of Tourism Odisha; His Excellency Datuk Hidayat Abdul Hamid, The High Commissioner of Malaysia to India; Zainuddin and Aireen.

Aireen said, “We are very excited to be here today in Bhubaneswar today to celebrate our inaugural flight to this beautiful city. We are officially the first airline to offer an international route to Bhubaneswar and we are humbled with the warm welcome from the government and people of Odisha. India is an important market to us at AirAsia and this new unique route is a reflection of our commitment towards enhancing our connectivity in the country.

“Our plans and commitment to grow in the Indian market is in line with the governments’ recent announcement to expand the number of slots for Malaysians carriers to operate between the two countries. Through this, we hope to help boost the tourism and trade in India and Malaysia while continue to provide our guests with better connectivity as well as offering them the best services in and out of India,” added Aireen.

Among some of the must-visit attractions include the ancient Lingaraj Temple, built in the 11th century as “the truest fusion of dream and reality”; the Konark Sun Temple, a symbol of India’s heritage and a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Eastern India architecture; one of most important Hindu temples in the world located in Puri, the Jagannath Temple; and places such as Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves which date back to the 2nd century BC. Other historical places to look out for are the Tribal Museum of Bhubaneswar, which is rich with a collection of artifacts, crafts and art objects belonging to different tribes; The Buddhist Circuit, a museum of international standards exhibiting various findings of Buddhist artefacts; as well as the Raj Bhavan Garden that serves as an important landmark of the modern capital city of Odisha.

Travellers should also look out for local products such as Chandua, a typical Orissa handiwork, and other products such as traditional paintings, metal ware, silver jewelry and Sambalpuri silk and cotton. On top of that, travellers can also leisure along the beaches at Puri and Gopalpur.

Guests can make use of the optional Fly-Thru service to connect to flights with their baggage checked-through to the final destination without the hassle of immigration clearance at the transit hub. With this service, guests can now travel to Bhubaneswar seamlessly from most cities in Asia and Australia, such as from Melbourne, Auckland, Bali, Bangkok or Haneda to Bhubaneswar via Kuala Lumpur.

AirAsia Group also connects Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, New Delhi directly to Kuala Lumpur, and from Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi and Kolkata directly to Bangkok in Thailand.

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Datuk Zainuddin Abd Wahab, His Excellency Datuk Hidayat Abdul Hamid, Aireen Omar, Ashok Chandra Panda, Arti Ahuja