A deal between AirAsia and Skybus will deliver about 4500 additional buses a year to Avalon Airport and almost double the number of services from the centre of Melbourne.
Avalon, near the regional city of Geelong, is about 55kms south-west of the Melbourne CBD and will be home to AirAsia X flights to and from Kuala Lumpur from December 5.
It is the airport’s first international service and comes after a concerted campaign to convince the long-haul, low-cost carrier to move its operations from Melbourne’s main airport at Tullamarine.
Airport officials are hoping it will prove a catalyst for additional overseas operators to consider as an alternative to Melbourne airport.
The Malaysian carrier will operate more than 500,000 seats on twice-daily flights to and from its Kuala Lumpur home base, connecting to more than 130 destinations served by the overall AirAsia Group.
Avalon, which was leased by the Linfox Group in 1997, had been talking to AirAsia for a decade as part of attempts to attract international flights that had also included HNA Group and the Philippines government.
The announcement of the 10-year agreement in February 2018 was attended by a slew of dignitaries and was described by AirAsia Group boss Tony Fernandes as an exciting milestone.
The trip to Avalon takes about 45 minutes, depending on the traffic, compared to 25-30 minutes to Melbourne Tullamarine, depending on traffic.
The new Skybus services will meet all AirAsia flights arriving and departing Avalon’s new international terminal and will offer discounted travel in the first two months of the airline’s move from Tullamarine. That will see one-way fares of $A19.50 and return fares of $37.
The fares take passengers to Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station where they can also avail themselves of the free “Skybus Link” to 12 city stops servicing about 100 hotels.
Passengers booked between December 5 and December 12 will also get complimentary SkyBus transfers between the two airports.
“Customers who travel on the new Avalon services can take advantage of free Wi-Fi, luggage racks, reliable running times, as well as online, mobile and kiosk ticketing options,” SkyBus director Michael Sewards said.
AirAsia is also offering conditional sale fares as low as $A199 one-way to promote its new service.