By Gill Cooper
Nearly 50,000 passengers flew on international flights to and from Avalon Airport during the festive season, according to the airline operating the new service.
AirAsia X had operated more than 150 flights through Avalon since 4 December, company spokesman Kris Taute said.
He said AirAsia X had seen “fantastic demand” for the new service between Kuala Lumpur and Avalon, particularly during school holidays when demand “exceeded 95 percent load factor”.
“As we approach the busy Chinese New Year period (in February), we’re beginning to see a strong uplift in bookings from across Asia into Avalon,” Mr Taute said.
Mr Taute said AirAsia’s airport infrastructure team will meet with Avalon Airport and relevant authorities later in January to review the first month of operations.
Avalon Airport chief executive officer Justin Giddings said that on-ground operations this first month had been going “exceptionally well” despite teething problems, with air conditioning and service glitches at the terminal.
“Skybus is working really well, but we do want better transport links so visitors can more easily explore the region.”
Mr Giddings said passengers last week were getting through security to the departure lounge in a “really good” time of three to four minutes.
“From leaving the plane to getting into your car it’s certainly a lot quicker than Melbourne Airport.”
Smart gates to check electronic passports of inbound passengers are yet to be installed and should speed up existing processes, he said.
Mr Giddings said some passengers were dissatisfied with the range of food and service times in the international lounge but more staff had been hired and photo boards were now being used to show all menu options.
“By making small changes our passenger services will continue to improve. I’m actually very happy with the progress at this stage.”
He said more equipment was due at Avalon Airport including a ramp under the plane to replace stairs so passengers could enter the same way.
“A new aircraft loader arrived this week for baggage and cargo which means we now have two loaders now which is great,” he said.
Car park construction at the terminal is due to finish before the Avalon Airshow from 1 to 3 March.
Mr Giddings said traffic contingencies were in place with a different entrance for the event near Hangar 6.
“Passenger aircraft have priority airspace and this may pause the Airshow program at times.”