Melbourne Avalon Airport has welcomed its first international flight with the arrival of AirAsia X’s inaugural service on Wednesday morning.
Flight D7 216, operated by Airbus A330-300 9M-XBA, touched down at about 0830, following its eight-hour journey from Kuala Lumpur.
The aircraft was on the ground for about two and a half hours before operating the reciprocal D7 218 back to the Malaysian capital.
— Avalon Airport (@AvalonAirportAU) December 4, 2018
AirAsia X has switched its twice daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne from Tullamarine as part of a 10-year deal signed with Avalon Airport’s operator Linfox Airports earlier in 2018.
The airport has said previously it expected about 500,000 passengers to pass through its newly built international terminal during the first year of operations.
On board the inaugural flight were AirAsia X group chief executive Nadda Buranasiri, Linfox Airports executive chairman David Fox and Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski, among other invited guests and media.
“The arrival of AirAsia X Flight D7218 at the state of the art new low-cost carrier terminal at Melbourne Avalon Airport signifies a new era for travellers and for the AirAsia Group in Australia,” Buranasiri said in a statement.
“This purpose-built no-frills facility has today become one of the most important international hubs AirAsia flies to outside of Southeast Asia.
“By working together with airport, government and regional stakeholders, we’ve been able to deliver a long term deal that provides lower operating costs for AirAsia, increased passenger volumes and non-aeronautical revenue for Avalon Airport, and ultimately the opportunity for millions of people to fly affordably.”
And the first direct flight KL-Geelong has landed! Smooth flight. Congratulations to all! pic.twitter.com/zMbfXEBFmV
— Andrew Goledzinowski (@AusHCMalaysia) December 4, 2018
— Ari Suss (@AriSuss) December 4, 2018
To cater for the start of international operations, a new terminal was built at Avalon in partnership with the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.
The terminal, which was officially opened on Sunday, features border processing facilities, two duty free stores, tax refund facilities, as well as a bar and cafe spread over a 6,370 square metre ground floor and 985 square metre mezzanine area.
AirAsia X is the only airline currently offering international flights from Avalon. The A330-300s used to serve its four Australian ports of the Gold Coast, Melbourne Avalon, Perth and Sydney feature 377 seats comprising 12 angled lie-flat seats in the front of the aircraft and 365 economy seats at nine abreast in the main cabin.
Qantas’s low-cost subsidiary Jetstar serves Adelaide, Gold Coast and Sydney from the airport located about 50 km west of Melbourne and 15 km from Geelong.