Posted: 5th Dec

Melbourne Avalon Airport has officially become Australia’s newest international airport.

The airport’s new international terminal was opened on Sunday, with Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Marise Payne among the politicians and other dignitaries present for the ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Avalon will welcome its first international service on Wednesday morning, with AirAsia X flight D7 218 from Kuala Lumpur due to touch down at about 0820.

The low-cost carrier (LCC) is switching its twice daily service to Melbourne from Tullamarine to Avalon.

Senator Payne told reporters at the terminal opening on Sunday having international flights come to Avalon represented an enormous opportunity for the region.

“We all know how fabulous the region is. I’m an old Geelong Cats supporter from way back so it doesn’t take much to get me to come here and it is a great pleasure and a great honour to be here this morning,” Senator Payne said according to a transcript posted on the Minister’s website.

Work on the new international terminal started in May 2018 and involved 1,100 workers. The federal government contributed $20 million towards total construction cost of $48 million, with the Victorian government also the making a considerable contribution, Avalon Airport said in a statement.

The international terminal features two duty free stores, tax refund facilities, as well as a bar and cafe spread over a 6,370 square metre ground floor and 985 square metre mezzanine area.

“Our mission is to be the best small airport in the world by providing passengers the service they expect of an international airport with the best price and greater efficiency,” Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings said in a statement.

“This terminal has room for expansion, and we look forward to announcing further routes, and to housing further airlines in the future.”

Avalon Airport, which is managed by Linfox Airports under a long-term lease from the Commonwealth, said it expected to handle about 500,000 international passengers during the first year of operation.

“The partnership with AirAsia is a significant moment for not just Avalon Airport, but the entire region,” Linfox Airports executive chairman David Fox said in a statement.

“These operations will produce a significant boost to jobs in the region, provide new tourism to regional areas, and provide an opportunity for exporters to have quicker and easier access to Asian markets.”

AirAsia X flies to Melbourne with Airbus A330-300s with 377 seats featuring 12 angled lie-flat recliners at the front of the aircraft and 365 economy seats at nine abreast in the main cabin.

Melbourne is one of four destinations in Australia alongside the Gold Coast, Perth and Sydney. - December 3, 2018