AirAsia X and Christchurch Airport Break Records

Christchurch International Airport (CIAL) and AirAsia X are today (October 1) celebrating a busy and very successful six months of doing business together.

CIAL General Manager Aeronautical Development Matthew Findlay says the success of this route is a great example of what can be achieved when an airline, airport and tourism bodies work together. 

"Malaysia is now New Zealand's second largest inbound market from Asia, up from 7th prior to the arrival of AirAsia X, proving when you introduce direct capacity on a route, demand will follow," he says.

"The Kuala Lumpur-Christchurch route has stimulated the inbound Malaysia market by 4,034% since the service commenced on April 1.  Since the service began, its flights have been consistently more than 75% full, which has exceeded our expectations for the route."

AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani agrees, saying a number of airline records have been broken on this route.

"We sold more than 30,000 tickets in the first three days after launching the route," he says. "AirAsia X has been awarded the prestigious Skytrax "World's Best Low Cost Carrier" for our work on this route, which reflects the quality of what we offer."

"We've been very pleased with the support we've received from the NZ tourism community and travelling public, who are enjoying our unique combination of new aircraft, quality service and some of the lowest long-haul fares ever offered to Asia and Europe.

"Malaysians and other Asian travellers have also embraced our affordable and easy access to the beauty of the South Island and it's rewarding to see the part we have played in helping make Malaysia the number two inbound Asian market for New Zealand."

Matthew Findlay says AirAsia X made a firm decision to work with a city coping with earthquakes.

"Its decision to launch Christchurch sales last December, despite the September earthquake, then flights in April, despite the February earthquake which shut the city central business district, shows the calibre of the airline," he says.  "AirAsia X chose not to take the easy road and postpone or cancel the route, because it believed in Christchurch as New Zealand's tourism gateway."

Mr Findlay says since the launch of the service, despite ongoing aftershocks and the issue of volcanic ash, AirAsia X passenger numbers have been consistently strong on its 377-seater plane operating four times a week.

He says the AirAsia X entry into Christchurch is responsible for approximately 10 thousand tourist arrivals in the second quarter of this year. He says this offset the effect the earthquake and ash disasters had on tourist arrivals.

"On the other hand, the service has helped more New Zealand tourists get to Malaysia. That number grew by more than 72%, which shows more New Zealanders are travelling and more of them chose to visit  Malaysia. In fact, Malaysia had the largest single increase in any market for travel by New Zealanders in the June quarter. "

Statistics also show the service is increasing the number of Asian tourists coming to New Zealand, using the Malaysia-Christchurch route as a new access point from other countries.

All these successes are prompting AirAsia X to consider increasing the regularity of its service to Christchurch.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Malaysia David Pine says it's clear the AirAsia X and Christchurch Airport relationship has been a resounding success.

"It's great to see these two organisations working together to make Malaysia and New Zealand more accessible to each other's people. The relationship is on an upswing and I'm convinced that the increasing contact through tourism and education that the new AirAsia X service is facilitating will take us even further," he says.

"On a personal note, I am also pleased to see the new business offering support to Christchurch at what we all appreciate is a very difficult time of recovery and re-building after the quakes."

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