Airlines drop services from Avalon
AVALON Airport’s plans to kick-start commercial travel after years of closure have suffered a series of setbacks with Jetstar cutting domestic flights to and from the destination and AirAsia switching its international routes to Tullamarine.
AirAsia X chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail announced on Wednesday last week that as of November, the carrier would fly between Kuala Lumpur and and Melbourne Airport rather than Avalon as it had done before the pandemic. “Avalon Airport has been a solid supporter of AirAsia X services in the past which were very popular… the low-cost airport is very much in sync with our low-cost model,” he said.
Long-term tenant Jetstar has suspended two weekly domestic services at Avalon, which are are part of an overall 15 per cent reduction in the Qantas Groups domestic flights that will continue through till the end of September
“We are in constant communication with AirAsia and we welcome flights back at any time… and any airline that wishes to use Avalon’s domestic and international terminals,” an airport spokesperson said.
“We understand the industry is dealing with many issues since the pandemic.”
In October 2019, 450,000 people flew in and out of Avalon, and Premier Daniel Andrews announced the airport would become a gateway to Vietnam, with VietJet Air set to start operating direct flights between there and Ho Chi Minh City from mid-2020.
“This is another big win for our state – more international flights to Avalon, means more jobs for Victoria,” Mr Andrews said at the time.
International flights at Avalon ceased in March the next year due to the pandemic and remained closed to overseas travel until the federal government announced the opening of Australia’s borders in February this year.
Then-Avalon CEO Justin Giddings responded with hope that AirAsia would resume its services to Kuala Lumpur and Bali, and said he’d already had two other carriers contact him that day.
“Becoming international in the first place was very hard, to do it all over again will take some time, but I’m very confident we’ll see international services operating this year,” Mr Giddings said.
Flying out of Avalon for 18 years, Jetstar said it was committed to maintaining its connection to the airport into the future.
“Jetstar will continue to work closely with Avalon Airport to rebuild our network and support local businesses and tourism, but we have no updates on international services at this stage.”
Tony Brun has been named as the new Avalon chief and will step into the role in October, having previously served in senior roles at both Melbourne and Perth airports.
New airline Bonza flagged in May that it was looking at routes between Avalon and the Sunshine Coast, but is yet to confirm if and when it will start flying from the airport.