AirAsia X becomes first international airline to fly to Melbourne's Avalon Airport

It may not have the flashy lounges, high-end cafes or luxury boutiques of Tullamarine, but getting through Victoria's new $48 million international terminal is a breeze.

This was one of the key points made by AirAsia X's CEO Benyamin Ismail at the press conference held at Avalon Airport on Wednesday morning to welcome its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur.

"I've been waiting for many years to find an airport that's simple and easy to use.

"This morning it took us 10-15 minutes to get through immigration and customs. This is the kind of airport we want to work with in the future."

Australia's High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski was also on board the flight, which arrived on time at 8.20am.

He spoke about Avalon's potential to be one of the high-tech gateways of the world, referring to the facial-recognition technology the airport wants to introduce as soon as possible, enabling passengers to move through the airport without having to get out their passports.

Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings greeted the inaugural flight, saying he wanted to make Avalon the "best small airport in the world."

Arriving passengers were greeted with champagne and strawberries, stuffed koalas and dancing air stewards, including AirAsia's social media star Assraf Nasir, who famously strutted his stuff to Britney Spear's hit single Toxic in a plane aisle.

AirAsia X's inaugural flight departed from the flash new KLIA2 airport at 9.25pm last night. The airport replaced AirAsia's LCCT terminal, which the airline outgrew within nine years of it opening.

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The new terminal has a capacity of handling 40 million passengers a year, up from LCCT's 15 million.

Given the amount of space that surrounds Avalon Airport, the potential for growth is enormous, with the possibility of adding more flights, routes and airlines to the billing over the next few years.

But for now, Avalon hopes to attract around 500,000 passengers to its refurbished terminal within the first year, boosting jobs and local tourism, and giving regional exporters easier access to local markets.

AirAsia X will fly twice daily from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, connecting passengers to a number of destinations throughout Asia.

Skybus hopes to lure potential passengers on the hour-long trip from the city with one-way $22 fares to Avalon and plans to meet each international flight as it lands.

The writer travelled on the inaugural flight as a guest of AirAsia X.

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