Airline watching in Asia-Pacific is becoming somewhat predictable. Almost immediately after a country throws open its borders, its carriers launch services to tried and tested routes. After a few weeks, that trickle becomes a flood with multiple routes resumed, such as AirAsia Xs return to Melbourne yesterday.
Not only is Australia’s second city Melbourne (MEL), now connected to Malaysia, but so is the New Zealand gateway of Auckland (AKL). The Auckland flight is a continuation of the Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Sydney service, opening up the trans-Tasman route to such much-needed price competition. The first Kuala Lumpur-Sydney-Auckland service also started yesterday, with flight D7288 landing in New Zealand at 18:59.
With its large student and ex-pat communities, Australia has been a popular destination for AirAsia X, which had a 45% share of the Malaysia-Australia route pre-pandemic. The Kuala Lumpur – Melbourne service will operate three times weekly, departing on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with Melbourne arrival and departure on Wednesday, Sunday and Friday. An Airbus A330-300 will fly the route, one of 12 in the airline’s fleet, with 377 seats, 12 in business and 365 in economy.
With the recent return of services to Sydney (SYD) and the resumption of flights to Melbourne and Perth this week, AirAsia X will be operating 24 weekly flights to Australia. Before the pandemic, the airline operated 92 flights weekly and said it aims to have around 50% of those back in service by the third quarter of 2023. AirAsia X commenced flying to Australia in 2007, and it was the fledgling airline’s first destination. By March 2020, it had carried more than 12.7 million passengers on the route, with almost four million arriving in Melbourne.
AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail was on hand at Melbourne airport yesterday, and he said that Asian travelers will now benefit from more value and choice with convenient and affordable access to Australia. With an eye on the two-way market, he added:
“At the same time, Australians will have access to 130 destinations on the AirAsia route map, with many low-fare connecting services through to popular destinations on our short-haul and long-haul group of airlines, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and more.”
It’s time for lower fares
The Kuala Lumpur – Perth (PER) and the Auckland via Sydney flights commence this week, significantly boosting choices for Australians and New Zealanders looking for an Asian holiday. December to February are the prime school holiday and peak travel times in both countries, and this is the first summer in three years that travel restrictions are gone. The other key factor is that with so many Asian carriers back in the market, there is not so much concern about airline reliability, unlike earlier this year when there was only Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia to choose from.
Airfares have also risen sharply, which many attribute to the relative lack of competition on international routes. Being a low-cost carrier AirAsia X has a good idea of where to set competitive fares and is offering some great ones to mark the resumed services. For this week only, an all-inclusive one-way economy ticket from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur is going for AU$349 ($222), and a premium flatbed seat in business will cost AU$2099 ($1,336).
Are you looking forward to hopping on an AirAsia X flight to Melbourne or KL?
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Low-Cost Carrier
- Year Founded:
- Riad Asmat