Malaysia-based low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X has launched 4X-weekly Airbus A330 service from Kuala Lumpur to Xi’an, its fifth Chinese destination.

AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said the airline is the first to fly directly to Xi’an from Kuala Lumpur as the LCC expands services across the wider Asian region. The carrier said the new emphasis on northern Asia will likely see China overhaul Australia as its prime destination.

“With Xi’an and another route to China to be announced soon, we expect China to surpass Australia [as a destination] within about 12 months,” Azran said.

Australia currently accounts for around 34% of AirAsia X’s revenue and passenger load; China accounts for around 25%. “Adding Xi’an into our network in China proves our commitment in our growth strategies in the Asia-Pacific region and will further expand [our] reach into North Asia,” he said.

AirAsia X currently flies to Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Shanghai.

The LCC said it expects to see the new regional Chinese routes “increase total revenue over 17% with more than 1 million guests flying into/from our China destinations this year,” adding it is aiming for an 80-plus passenger load factor.