18 March 2010
BUDGET airline AirAsia is considering flying to Cairns, including direct flights from Bali.
An airline spokesman yesterday said the Malaysian operator was talking with Cairns airport
"AirAsia is in discussion with Cairns airport authorities on the possibility of launching several routes," he said.
"Cairns-Bali is among those on the list. But nothing has been firmed up and the talks are merely in the exploratory stage."
Airport chief executive Stephen Gregg was tight-lipped yesterday.
He said the airport was always open to opportunities with new airlines to add capacity for Cairns.
"But at this stage there is no news on AirAsia coming here," Mr Gregg said.
Advance Cairns chairman Russell Beer said at the launch of Alliance Airlines services earlier this week AirAsia was talked about.
He said he understood the discussions were preliminary and any additional flights, especially from overseas, were welcome.
Mr Beer said as part of the New Deal relief, recovery and reform package for Cairns he was driving any increased airline capacity.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Rob Giason said senior executives from the airline had visited Cairns in the past and there had been talks about possible opportunities.
"I have no knowledge of any route developments at this stage," he said.
AirAsia is based in Malaysia with hubs also in Indonesia and Thailand. It operates from major airport in Kuala Lumpur.
It has a network of 130 routes covering 70 destinations, employs about 7000 staff and carried about 25 million passengers last year.
Its offshoot, AirAsia X, flies to Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast from Kuala Lumpur and also flies to Bali from Perth.
It hopes to start services to Sydney by mid-year. There are plans to fly to Darwin and Adelaide.
It is not clear how its operational alliance with Jetstar will affect its Cairns plans. Jetstar flies to Bali and Singapore via Darwin.
The alliance is tipped to save the airlines about $300 million annually, as a springboard to a wider partnership that includes revenue and code sharing.
By Nick Dalton
The Cairns Post