AVALON, Australia: AirAsia became the first airline to touch down at Melbourne’s newly opened international airport at Avalon on Wednesday (Dec 5) morning.
It also marked the launch of the first international service by the low-cost carrier to and from Victoria’s second airport, located 40km southwest of Melbourne.
With the start of flights to Avalon Airport, AirAsia will cease operating from the city's main airport at Tullamarine.
AirAsia X Malaysia CEO 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 (US$36 million) investment by the airport operator and the Australian and Victorian governments near the City of Geelong.
Operated by AirAsia’s long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X, Flight D7218 touched down at 8.20am local time with an 80 per cent load factor.
“This purpose-built no-frills facility has today become one of the most important international hubs AirAsia flies to outside of Southeast Asia,” Benyamin said.
He added the airline aims to fly 500,000 passengers annually 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 said.
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 and Bali in the near future.
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.
To celebrate the inaugural flight, AirAsia has launched a Welcome to Melbourne Avalon Sale with promotional fares (until Dec 9) starting from RM499 each way between Melbourne Avalon/Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur/Melbourne Avalon for travel now through to May 2019.
In Australia, AirAsia also operates services between Kuala Lumpur and Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast.