Flights between Kuala Lumpur and the Chinese coastal city of Tianjin are to be started by budget long-haul carrier AirAsia X this winter.

The service runs from December 2 with bookings open from today (Thursday) for travel until March 28, 2019.

The long-haul affiliate of Malaysia-based AirAsia will provide the only direct service between the two cities.

AirAsia will also expand a direct route between Kuala Lumpur and Changsha by doubling capacity from October 29 with the use of wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft.

The introduction of Tianjin means that the airline group will serve 20 cities in China with 550 weekly direct flights from hubs in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail said: “The announcements today of the new and exclusive route between Kuala Lumpur and Tianjin and the capacity increase to Changsha with our larger wide body aircraft will contribute year-round capacity of over 300,000 additional visitor seats in total to China, significantly boosting tourism, trade and economic growth while paving the way towards China’s Year of Tourism and Culture 2020, envisioned by the leaders of both nations.

“Together with our existing routes into China, today’s announcement means we are further strengthening our foothold in northern China and increasing our overall capacity to China – one of our fastest growing markets.

“We will continue to look for expansion opportunities that not only maintain AirAsia Group’s dominance as the largest foreign carrier to China by capacity, but also enable us to remain committed in our quest to making air travel affordable for everyone.”