Avalon Airport to become international gateway

Economic Development Pillar

Long-held vision for Avalon Airport to provide a gateway to the world will take shape with Air Asia set to launch international services later this year.

Airline co-founder and chief executive officer Tony Fernandes joined Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Victorian Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll and Linfox Airports chief David Fox to announce the landmark deal on Sunday (February 4, 2018).

Air Asia X will launch twice daily services from Avalon to Kuala Lumpur, with the single destination opening up more than 130 connecting destinations across Asia and beyond for travellers.

The arrival of the low-cost carrier is expected to bring 500,000 international passengers through Avalon Airport in the first year of operation, with generation of 200 jobs and far-reaching implications for Geelong region and Great Ocean Road tourism. Airport owner Linfox is set to start $20 million work on an upgraded terminal.

AirAsia X jets will also be able to export 14 tonnes of fresh Victorian produce to Asia every day and Mr Fox said the prospects of freight volumes had generated great interest from exporters in the region.

Speaking at the launch Ms Bishop hailed beginning of a ‘beautiful partnership’ between Avalon and Air Asia and told regional leaders that the potential benefits from connecting with the new tourist market should not be underestimated.

Growth of Avalon Airport, with international services, is a G21 Economic Development Pillar Priority Project.

Mr Carroll was joined by Tourism Minister and Member for Lara John Eren for the announcement and said the development would lift Avalon Airport’s workforce to 400, with opportunities to be made available to former automotive industry workers.

He claimed the deal as a huge win for Geelong and Victoria. Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said it was a game-changer for regional Victoria.

Mr Eren said Avalon had gone from strength to strength.

“We’re so proud to have secured the first ever international service for Avalon, attracting thousands more visitors and bringing more business to our region,” he said.

Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings said a 10-year deal had been structured to accommodate AirAsia X’s significant growth.

“It is the first such deal in Australia and provides a unique low-cost opportunity for people and businesses to access over 130 destinations throughout Asia,” Mr Giddings said.

“Low-cost flights combined with an easy airport experience makes for the perfect partnership.”

AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail said the airline was proud to be first flying international routes from Avalon, connecting the region and Victoria with Kuala Lumpur.

“Melbourne and Victoria are important markets to us and this new services, with 560,000 seats annually will provide a significant boost to business and tourism, including to such attractions as the Great Ocean Road.

“We wish to thank all the relevant authorities for their tremendous support in making our move to Avalon Airport possible.”

Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson said ‘the sky is the limit’, hailing the announcement close on the heels of confirmation of a City Deal for Geelong and allocation $20 million in federal funding for regional projects.

Member for Corio Richard Marles said the breakthrough deal would resonate.

“I have no doubt that the significance of this moment in the economic history of Geelong is profound,” Mr Marles said.

“Airports employ people. Governments of all persuasions, state and federal have wanted and supported this project for so long.”

The announcement follows Victorian Government securing of Jetstar domestic services from Avalon and launch of an adjoining industrial precinct including anchor tenant Cotton On, with a major clothing distribution centre.

Sources: State Government and Avalon Airport media releases, speeches at the launch.

Caption: Air Asia flight crew members are pictured after the announcement with, back, from left Linfox Airports chief David Fox, AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail, State Industry and Employment Minister Ben Carroll, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings, Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson, State Tourism Minister John Eren and Member for Corio Richard Marles.