Melbourne Avalon Airport this week saw its first AirAsia X international flight take off. The new flight sees AirAsia X move its twice daily Kuala Lumpur – Melbourne Tullamarine flight as part of a 10 year deal with operator Linfox Airports, which the airline signed early this year.
As part of the deal, a new terminal was built to facilitate international operations (the airport had only previously catered to domestic operation) in partnership with the Commonwealth and Victorian governments. The new terminal features border processing facilities, two duty free stores, tax refund facilities, as well as a bar and cafe spanning across 6,370 square metres. The airport anticipates 500,000 passengers will pass through its newly built international terminal during its first year of operations.
AirAsia X is the only airline currently offering international flights from Avalon. Whilst the move from some in the sector feel that shift to Avalon is risky for AirAsia, the large subsidies from the Victorian Government will ensure that the move from Tullamarine to Avalon is at least cost effect. Combined with Geelong experiencing a large spike in population growth in recent years due to its close proximity to Melbourne and housing options, the move to me seems quite a smart one. I don’t envision that the move will pay dividends instantly but give it one to two years and I believe Avalon will be a viable option for price conscious flyers looking to fly between Melbourne and Asia.
Flight: TT247, Sydney-Melbourne (17 July 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: N/A
Frequency: Multiple flights daily
Duration: 1 hr and 20 mints
For years Tiger Airways had a shocking reputation, often seen as more pleb than budget compared to its competitor Jetstar. Heck Jetstar feels like a premium airline in comparison. When I first flew the airline it was a nightmare and vowed never to fly them again but here I am five years later and giving the airline another chance. Is this airline tiger still toothless or has it found the bite to be successful? TAT got onboard to find out.
The flight was delayed by half an hour from an incoming Tiger aircraft from Adelaide. The lack of announcements left many people baffled as to when they were going to start boarding. A positive unlike Jetstar is that the ground staff weren’t going out with a measuring tape and weights to assess passengers’ bags before boarding.
Initial impressions count and stepping onto the plane for the first time I found the interior was fresh with newly fitted leather black seating with orange headrests throughout the cabin. I was flying one of the newly refitted Tiger aircraft and can confidentially say it has come a long way since it grey and beige interior days.
The cabin is all economy seating. One thing I noticed immediately when I sat down was how roomy the seats and leg space was. This was a pleasant surprise. Unlike Jetstar which usually had my knees touching the seat in front, Tiger offered enough room to stretch out the legs comfortably for a short flight.
Nothing to see here unless you find your weird fellow passengers some form of entertainment.
Wine and dine me (the food)
Tiger being budget is a buy on board airline. There are no thrills unless you’re willing to put up the dollars. I had pre-purchased during the booking stage online a pie and sausage roll dish. All meals on Tiger include a free drink. When the cabin crew came round with the cabin service I was the first to be served my meal. The service was swift, relatively friendly but sadly not personalised.
The food itself was tasty and simple and did the trick for the short plane ride. Pricing for the meal was on par with Jetstar but the bonus of the free drink was a nice extra that is sadly missing with most Jetstar meals.
The short flight was more than enough for me on Tiger. The experience overall was a hell of a lot better than my first flight with them years ago. The interior of the cabin, seating and little food extras definitely added a bit of spark to what would have been a rather dull flight. Would I fly them again? They wouldn’t be my preferred option but if I had to look at options for a short haul 1-2 hour flight then Tiger would definitely be on my list of choices.
Service: 3 Stars
Seating: 3 stars
Food: 3 Stars
Avalon Airport airport and AirAsia will announce this weekend that the airline will move its twice daily return service between Tullamarine and Kuala Lumpur to Avalon. The move would create a second international airport in Victoria.
This has been a long time coming for Avalon Airport where the owners had high hopes of creating a competitive alternative to Melbourne’s Tullamarine but failed to take off over the years to develop the airport beyond its domestic Jetstar services. Having used the airport numerous times and keeping in mind the expanding population of Geelong down the road, this is really a no brainer and a great win for the area.
Whilst the announcement will be the easiest part when it is signed and sealed on Sunday, there is a lot of work to be done especially if the airport wants to start operating AirAsia aircraft by years end. The airport which only caters domestic flights would need to not only build an international terminal but also secure the services of immigration, quarantine and Border Force agencies.
The move follows an amendment by the federal government on Avalon’s lease in 2015 to allow it to build an international terminal and/or expand the existing terminal to accommodate international operations.
Operating since 2014, the airport currently averages 500,000 passengers a year but is anticipated to swell to 7.25 million a year by 2031. In my opinion with these figures in mind, there is no time like the present to get on building and create the Avalon Airport that owners envisioned years ago.
Are you excited by the news of AirAsia flying out of Avalon and if so would you use them for your next international flight?