AirAsia X is set to return to Australia and New Zealand from 1 November.
The Malaysian budget airline will fly three-times-weekly services to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Auckland before increasing to a daily schedule by the first quarter of 2023.
The business’ chief executive, Benyamin Ismail, said, “In 2019, we flew over a million guests to both countries, which shows that Australia and New Zealand are important markets for us, and we connected the same number of Australians and New Zealanders to Malaysia and across ASEAN.”
The larger AirAsia X group also includes longer-haul subsidiaries Thai AirAsia X and Indonesia AirAsia X, all of which operate a fleet of A330s. It also includes shorter haul carriers such as AirAsia, AirAsia India, Philippines AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, and Thai AirAsia.
AirAsia X’s Melbourne service will also be returning to Tullamarine after shifting its Victorian flights to Avalon in 2018, pre-pandemic.
Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation, Jim Parashos said, “With a significant network beyond Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia X provides a one-stop service into much of India and South-East Asia, which is particularly valuable for international students or Victorians looking to visit friends and family overseas.”
The news comes after Australia earlier this month dropped its legal requirement for passengers to be vaccinated, which was shortly adopted by Qantas.
The outgoing federal rule led to a diplomatic incident earlier this year when tennis player Novak Djokovic was allowed into the country to play in the Australian Open, before being effectively deported a week later.
However, Australia is still mandating inbound passengers to wear masks — a decision criticised by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.
Speaking on 2GB radio, Joyce said Australia was “a little behind the curve” on the restrictions, which bizarrely means those flying from Sydney to London don’t require face coverings, but those coming the other way do.
“I think every airline would be encouraging the federal government to move on as soon as they can,” Joyce said.
Currently, international passengers are bound by the rules set by the country they are flying into, while domestically, masks are required in the air but not on the ground at airports.
“I’ve gone back to Europe to North America a few times and I’m wearing the mask for 17 hours. It is not very comfortable. And people know that,” said Joyce.
“In the United States and around Europe, the mask mandates have been dropped.
“We’ve had a change of government and we had to wait for the election to change with a new government in place and a new federal transport minister in place. I talked to her about this and we’re hoping to make progress pretty soon.”