Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia X has launched its second Australia destination, starting direct flights between Perth and Kuala Lumpur from November.
The services to the Malaysian capital will start with six flights per week, increasing to daily services by March 2009.
AirAsia, which also has a Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast service, announced an introductory offer on one-way flights from Perth to Kuala Lumpur for $99 for travel between November and April, 2009.
Tourism Minister Sheila McHale said the deal between Tourism WA, AirAsia and Westralia Airports Corporation could inject nearly $100 million into the WA economy in the service’s first year.
Ms McHale said Malaysia is already one of WA’s top tourism markets, with nearly 40,000 visitors every year spending $157 million.
AirAsia next year plans to link Australia with London via Kuala Lumpur – which will further boost the number of United Kingdom visitors to WA.
Ms McHale said low-cost carriers had historically been successful in boosting tourism by offering competitive fares and attracting visitors who had not travelled widely before.
Westralia Airports Corporation chief executive Brad Geatches said the arrival of AirAsia would be a profitable win for the state’s tourism industry.
He said the deal presents an opportunity for Perth Airport to become a major hub for low-cost carriers.
“Our recently announced $1 billion plan to consolidate the international and domestic terminals means we will be well-placed to meet the growing demand from people travelling through Perth,” he said.
In 2007, AirAsia carried 18.5 million passengers around its network of 90 routes across south east Asia and China.
Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group owns a 16% stake in Air Asia as well as a 25% stake in Virgin Blue.
It has been suggested that Virgin Blue and AirAsia could possibly develop a partnership in the future with Virgin Blue feeding Air Asia’s long-haul network from various points in Australia.