KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia said Tuesday it will launch its seventh route into mainland China in October as part of its regional expansion despite the economic slump.

AirAsia will be the first airline to fly direct from Kuala Lumpur to Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province in southwestern China, with four weekly flights from October 20, it said in a statement.

The carrier said the new route would be operated by its long-haul affiliate AirAsia X.

AirAsia already flies to Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Guilin and Haikou in the southern region, Hangzhou in the east and Tianjin in the north. It also has flights to Hong Kong and Macao.

With China a key trading partner for Souteast Asia, the new route will also boost trade and tourism, AirAsia said.

AirAsia X, which began long-haul operations in November 2007, currently flies from Kuala Lumpur to London, Australia, Taiwan and China. Last week, it announced it would launch flights to Abu Dhabi in November, marking the group’s first foray into the Middle East.