Cut-price airline AirAsia X has announced it is to begin new Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur flights.
The Malaysian-based carrier will offer one-way fares to Kuala Lumpur - starting at $199 including taxes and charges - and four return flights a week from November 12. The airline plans to increase to daily return flights during the peak season from December to mid-January and then daily from March 2009.
Industry and Trade Minister Theo Theophanous said the announcement was great news for Victorians, for local business and international education services. "The growth in services exports is being driven by international education," he said. "Around 40% of Malaysian students in Australia choose Victoria, with more than 7600 enrolments in 2007. "Given the strong alumni links and growing trade and investment relationships between Victoria and South-East Asia, travel for business and pleasure will continue to expand," he said.
Melbourne is AirAsia X's third Australian destination. Its network includes services to the Gold Coast, Shanghai and Perth. Azran Osman-Rani, chief executive officer of AirAsia X, said the daily peak season service during Christmas would offer Malaysian and Australian travellers low fares at a time when other airlines typically gouge passengers with high airfares because demand outstrips capacity.
Tourism and Major Events Minister Tim Holding said the new services would provide a significant boost for Victoria's tourism industry, worth more than $10 billion. The airline's fare sale begins tomorrow and runs until Sunday.