by Luke Voogt
Flights to New Zealand, Brisbane and Tasmania could be next on the horizon for Geelong travellers following the announcement of a new service to Bali.
Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings named Brisbane as “first” on his “wish list” after securing a third international service for Geelong.
“That would be easiest to fill and that would have the biggest impact,” he said.
The recent growth in international flights at Avalon would increase demand for domestic services “feeding people around the country”, Mr Giddings explained.
A flight to either Hobart or Launceston, which was second on his wish list, would feed into the Bali service commencing on January 24, he said.
“There’s no direct flight to Bali from Tasmania.”
He believed New Zealand was the “logical” next international destination for Geelong.
“When we go to speak to Asian airlines, one of the first things they ask is, ‘are you flying to New Zealand?’”
But Geelong fast train discussions had stalled plans for a rail link to Avalon Airport, despite State Government designating a route in 2014, Mr Giddings acknowledged.
“We’re pushing hard for (a rail link) but that’s not going to happen in the next five years,” he said.
“If we were to connect into the existing line we could do it next year – we could do it this year.
“But the last thing we want is to build something that becomes redundant when the fast rail comes along.”
The link would be essential to sustaining the airport’s “strong growth”, Mr Giddings said.
“We’re going to need better alternatives to driving to the airport.”
Low-cost airline Citilink will operate a daily 178-passenger service departing Avalon Airport at 12.50pm and arriving in Denpasar at 4.20pm.
The return flight leaves Bali at 11.45pm and arrives at Avalon at 8.50am. Citilink’s website this week advertised return flights for $578.
The airlines operating international services at Avalon Airport are set to triple less than two years since its inaugural international flight to Kuala Lumpur commenced.
Mr Giddings “hoped” for an influx of international airlines coming to Avalon but stopped short of predicting a surge.
“The more airlines come, the more airlines hear about the airport and its success,” he said.
Airlines were “looking for better ways into Australia” and Avalon had advantages, such as its lack of congestion, Mr Giddings said.
Attracting new airlines was “far less onerous” now that the airport had an international terminal and complementary workforce, he added.