The messaging from the Tourism and Transport Task Force the TTF about the newly announced AirAsiaX flights between Adelaide and Kuala Lumpur from the end of October is all about what the low fare carrier will bring to the Australian economy in expanded visitor numbers rather than what it might take from Qantas.
Which in terms of Adelaide, is not surprising, since Qantas has abandoned South Australia when it comes to calling Australia home as part of its give away of core parts of its non Sydney Melbourne international business to Emirates.
But AirAsia X is still offering an introductory bargain in the SA market for Australians to fly to KL, starting at $99 according to one report, which means it is actually paying us to fly with them, since it is unlawful to offer a fare in Australia that doesn’t include the not inconsiderable additional fees and levies that are a compulsory part of flying out of this country.
An AirAsia X service between Adelaide and Kuala Lumpur has been anticipated, and lobbied for by the SA government, Tourism Australia and the inbound tourism industry in general for years.
There is a widely held expectation that it may provoke an entry into the Adelaide market by Singapore Airlines’ low fare wide body brand Scoot, and perhaps even a Jetstar wide body flight or two.
The AirAsia X flights start on 30 October and will rise to five times weekly frequency by December.
It is, as the TTF says, a very important win for the the Australian tourism sector, especially with Europe originating travel discouraged by the EU’s economic crisis, despite the favourable decline in the value of the Australian dollar compared to the euro and pound sterling.
AirAsia X currently flies between Kuala Lumpur and Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast while its associated single aisle AirAsia low far franchise also serves Darwin.
TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said this was a great outcome for South Australian tourism.
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“Malaysia is Australia’s 7th largest inbound source market and, like other Asian nations, it has a growing middle class with a propensity for international travel,” he said.
“This new affordable, regular service will deliver even more visitors from Malaysia, creating more than $30 million of local economic activity and an additional 170 jobs.
“Almost 270,000 Malaysians visited Australia in the 12 months to the end of May, up 11.2 per cent on the previous year and this additional airline capacity will help grow these strong visitor numbers.
“Attracting more visitors will foster job opportunities, infrastructure investment and business stimulus in the South Australian economy, where tourism already directly employs 33,000 people and supports 18,263 businesses.
“This new service will see South Australia welcome 12,200 international airline seats each week, exceeding its target of 11,500 international seats by 2020 and contributing to the goal of $8 billion in overnight tourism expenditure by 2020.”
*Sir Richard Branson owns a minority take in AirAsia X. Earlier this year he dressed up as a flight attendant as part of a losing bet with AirAsia X founder Tony Fernandes, and during a flight to KL poured the drinks over his partner’s head, in the discount business class cabin, where Fernandes is reported to have fired him. Ceremonially.