BY JAMES WILKINSON
The airline, which already flies from Kuala Lumpur to the Gold Coast, Melbourne (Tullamarine) and Perth, will add around 55,000 seats into the market in each direction on an annual basis once flights launch on April 2.
Air Asia X will operate two-class Airbus A330-300s on the route and outbound flights will start at AUD$99 one-way in economy class and $499 in Air Asia X’s premium cabin, which offers flat-bed seats.
The move has been welcomed by industry body the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), whose CEO John Lee said the inbound tourism boost for Sydney would be significant.
“Malaysia is one of our key source countries for international visitors and ad one where we should continue to see growth in the coming years,” he said.
“These daily flights will eventually bring an additional 55,000 visitors to New South Wales every year, contributing almost AUD$140 million to the state’s economy and creating business and employment opportunities statewide.
“In addition, AirAsia X connects to 80 destinations in 20 countries, giving Australia yet more access to tourists from emerging markets in Asia, as well as providing travel options for Australians.
“Increasing aviation capacity is critical to growing inbound tourism to Australia, and the securing of the daily AirAsia X services is another great result for the airline attraction partnership between Destination NSW and Sydney Airport,” he said.
However, Lee said with the expected influx of international tourists as a result of the new flights, New South Wales Government again needs to look at the significant undersupply of hotel rooms at present.
“Today’s announcement also underlines the need for investment in additional hotel capacity for Sydney, where occupancy rates are over 85%,” he said. “If we are attracting more visitors to Sydney, it follows that they’ll need somewhere to stay.
“We look forward to working with the NSW government on addressing this key issue.”