AirAsia X will launch daily services between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur from April as the budget carrier turns its focus to Australia after abandoning routes to Europe.
During an appearance in Sydney, AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said the long haul carrier also hopes to expand its daily Melbourne service to twice daily and open service to Adelaide, according to reports. The airline already flies to Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast.
Flights to Sydney are due to start April 2, days after AirAsia will cease flights to London and Paris. The Malaysian carrier moved to cut those services last week as persistent economic woes in Europe continue to drive down demand for leisure travel. AirAsia also slashed flights to India, saying it would refocus on more profitable routes in Asia and Australasia.
By ramping up its Australia flights, AirAsia X increases pressure on Qantas-owned Jetstar, already facing increasing competition from Asian carriers such as China Southern. AirAsia X will connect Australian travelers to a network of more than 80 destinations through its Kuala Lampur hub.
Sydney Airport, which recently launched a partnership with Destination NSW to promote the city to new airlines, touted the announcement as a boon for tourism, saying the route will contribute more than $140 million a year to the NSW economy. As some analysts have pointed out, however, that fails to take into account the dollars that Australian travelers will take with them as they choose low cost international travel over domestic tourism.