AVALON, Dec 5 — AirAsia became the first airline to touch down at Melbourne’s second international airport at Avalon this morning.
It also marked the launch of the first international service by the world best low-cost airline to and from Victoria’s second airport located in Melbourne’s southwest.
Operated by AirAsia’s long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X, Flight D7218 touched down here at 8.20am (local time) with a 80 per cent load factor.
AirAsia X Malaysia chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail said the inaugural flight to Avalon sealed a 10-year deal between the airline and Melbourne’s Avalon Airport, built with an about RM150 million investment by the airport operator and the Australian and Victorian governments near the City of Geelong.
“This purpose-built no-frills facility has today become one of the most important international hubs AirAsia flies to outside of South-east Asia,” he told the Malaysian media at a press conference here today.
Also present at the launch were Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski AM, Group CEO AirAsia X, Nadda Buranasiri; executive chairman Linfox Airports, David Fox; and CEO Avalon Airport, Justin Giddings.
Benyamin said the airline aimed to fly 500,000 passengers annualy via this route.
“AirAsia will operate 28 flights per week between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne Avalon. We aim to increase our load factor from 80 per cent ( at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport) to 85 per cent via this new airport next year, “ he added.
AirAsia previously flew from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne Tullamarine.
According to Benyamin, the long-term deal provides lower operating costs for AirAsia, will increase passenger volumes, non-aeronautical revenue for Avalon Airport and ultimately an opportunity for millions of people to fly affordably.
“AirAsia guests who fly to Melbourne Avalon will benefit from a range of ‘Avalon Advantages’ including cheaper parking, no Tullamarine freeway tolls, convenient access to Melbourne City Centre via SkyBus, new airport infrastructure and a hassle-free arrival and departure process,” he added.
He said the airline also plans to fly to Avalon from Bangkok (Thailand) and Bali (Indonesia) in the near future.
To celebrate the inaugural flight, AirAsia has launched a “Welcome to Melbourne Avalon Sale” with fares starting from just RM499 each way between Melbourne Avalon/Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur/Melbourne Avalon for travel now through to May 2019 (booking period from today until Dec 9).
In Australia, AirAsia currently also operates services between Kuala Lumpur and Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast. — Bernama