AirAsia X began serving Gold Coast Airport in 2007 – and it was a ‘first’ for both the carrier and the airport. The route from Kuala Lumpur marked AirAsia X’s first international service, and it was also our first new long-haul international service following the airport’s A$20 million runway extension.
It was a big moment for us both and since then the relationship has gone from strength to strength. Since AirAsia X started direct services in 2007, Malaysian visitors to Queensland have increased by 90% and now rate in the top 10 for total international passenger numbers to both Queensland and Australia.
We truly view AirAsia X as a partner and we work collaboratively with them. It’s a unique relationship and we now even welcome a significant team of AirAsia X staff who travel each year to compete in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. Their CEO, Azran Osman-Rani, leads the team and has completed the full 42km marathon for the past two years. We also have an annual football tournament between Gold Coast Airport staff and AirAsia X staff, the venue of which rotates between the Gold Coast and Malaysia each year.
Our new A$100 million terminal redevelopment was officially launched in January 2010 and Osman-Rani travelled to the Gold Coast to celebrate this event – another indication of the true partnership that we have with the airline, which is so much more than a mere business arrangement.
Looking back, we began negotiations with the carrier during our runway extension project and the talks took about six months. From the outset AirAsia X was excited about making the Gold Coast their first international destination.
Experiencing the destination
We were lucky that our stunning destination really sells itself and we were able to stand out from our competitors.
Part of our “sales pitch” was to show AirAsia X’s team the incredible highlights we have to offer – from fabulous beaches to rainforest hinterland, with everything from theme parks and city attractions to natural wonderlands in between. We have all of this on offer in both the south east Queensland and the northern New South Wales regions, including Byron Bay.
We know we have a major draw card for international visitors and we remain committed to growing the tourism pie for the Gold Coast and northern New South Wales. This means that we are also committed to working in partnership with every airline to build a route and to ensure that the service is sustainable in both directions.
In the case of AirAsia X, we work locally to highlight to our community the extensive choices that AirAsia X gives them to hub via Kuala Lumpur to so many global destinations.
In order to make the service work, we committed to AirAsia X from the outset that we would work with them on filling their capacity and on cooperative marketing agreements to ensure this was fulfilled.
We work locally in the Gold Coast and in Queensland and we also worked extensively in the Malaysian market with AirAsia X to launch the new service and to sell the destinations. This marketing activity is ongoing.
The combination of already having a long-haul airline partner of the calibre of AirAsia X, along with our runway extension and the more recent A$100 million terminal redevelopment – the first purpose-built airport terminal dedicated to low-coast carriers – all helps us in our discussions with other airlines. We are committed to working with our existing airline partners to increase loads on our existing routes and make them as successful as they can be, which we see as critical as attracting new carriers.
This issue features in Routes News 2011 Issue 2