15 March 2010
Low-cost carrier Air Asia says it remains committed to starting services between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur on July 1 this year, despite a "frustrating" wait for Malaysian government approval.
Air Asia says everything is in place to make Sydney the Malaysian-based carrier's fourth Australian destination, following Perth, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
All that is needed was for the Malaysian government to give the green light.
"It all now depends on the Malaysian government's approval. That's all," an Air Asia spokesperson said from Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
"It's frustrating, very, very frustrating.
"There is an immense demand for capacity on that route."
The spokesperson said the airline hoped to get a clear indication of the Malaysian government's intentions in the next six weeks.
Air Asia's long-haul offshoot Air Asia X started flying to Australia in November 2007, when it began services to the Gold Coast.
The Malaysian-based airline added Perth and Melbourne a year later.
Other current destinations include London, Mumbai, Taipei and Tianjin.
The spokesperson said Air Asia had reached agreement with Sydney Airport Corporation Ltd for a daily service between Australia's most populous city and the Malaysian capital.
"Sydney Airport has been fully kept up to date with our plans. They are fully aware of our launch date and what we want to do," the spokesperson said.
"So the moment we get approval, it's a go."
Sydney Airport manager of media and communications Michael Samaras would not comment specifically on dealings with Air Asia, but said the airport had an "active marketing program to attract new services from existing airlines and to attract new airlines to commence flying from Sydney".
"Sydney Airport is a major contributor to Sydney's economy and the arrival of a new airline is always good news for all those people employed in Sydney's tourism, hospitality and related industries," Mr Samaras said in an email on Monday.
Malaysian media reports suggest the government has been slow to move on Air Asia's request for services to Sydney to protect national flag carrier Malaysia Airlines, which is the only operator on the route.
Air Asia was also waiting for government approval to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul.
Qantas Airways Ltd subsidiary Jetstar started flying between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur in September 2007, but withdrew a year later to redeploy aircraft for flights to Japan.
But Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan said on January 6 that the route could be resurrected as it took delivery of new aircraft.
By Jordan Chong