Australia recognises contributions of low-cost carriers

GEELONG (Australia): More countries are embracing and recognising economic contributions from low-cost carriers (LCCs) by setting up new LCC terminals (LCCTs) or refurbishing existing airports into LCCTs.

AirAsia’s inaugural flight to Melbourne’s new Avalon Airport yesterday morning, through its affiliate AirAsia X, is testament that Australia and the state of Victoria, recognised the economic contribution of LCC airlines such as AirAsia.

Apart from Avalon Airport, Australia’s first LCCT, other countries such as Singapore, Japan and China have set up dedicated LCCTs.

Avalon Airport Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Justin Giddings said Melbourne’s second international airport at Avalon was among the cheapest in the world.

“We concentrated on keeping the (airport’s) cost down, but still be able to deliver the best services to airlines and passengers.

“When you see airports around the world, they are just massive and too big, but here, we make it as simple as it can be for passengers, with less walking and less stress for them,” he told the Malaysian media here.

Avalon Airport was built with investments of about AU$48 million (AU$1=RM3.00), with the Australian government contributing AU$20 million and additional support from the Victoria state government.

It is owned by the LinfoxGroup, one of Australia’ most successful companies.

Giddings said after AirAsia, the airport would like to see other

international airlines operating from it.

“We like to see more international airlines operate from here but at this moment we design this for AirAsia because it is the perfect airline for us. We are also ready to expand the terminal in the future (as needed),” he said. – Bernama

AirAsia is currently the only international airline landing at  Avalon and is expected to create multiplier effects for tourism, business, land transportation and employment for the local community.

The airport will give Geelong, the nearest town located 15 km from the airport, a great opportunity to realise its potential as the second largest city in Victoria after Melbourne.

AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail said AirAsia was known for servicing many regional sectors which it calls “unique routes” not catered to by any other airlines, such as the new Kuala Lumpur-Avalon sector.

He said when AirAsia first flew to Bandung, Indonesia, it was the only international flight that served the city, but now there are at least 13 airlines are flying into the airport.

“Essentially, a LCCT should be a simple airport operation, while maintaining a fair level of comfort for passengers and conducive support for airline operations.

“This primarily results from the government and airport operators’ full understanding of the LCC business and operation model, which calls for digitalisation and automation to achieve high efficiency while keeping airfares low for the people,” Benyamin added.