AirAsia X has Wellington and Christchurch on its radar video

Supplied / BEVAN READ/

AirAsia will fly between Auckland and the Gold Coast using an Airbus A330-300 from March 22.

AirAsia X could return to Christchurch or even fly to Wellington if its new Auckland to Malaysia service proves successful, its chief executive says.

This month the low cost carrier confirmed it  was returning to New Zealand with daily Kuala Lumpur to Auckland flights via the Gold Coast from March 22.

It was offering limited one way flights from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur via the Gold Coast in Queensland for $249 as well as Auckland to Gold Coast for $99 one way.

AirAsia X chief executive Benyamin Ismail says flights to Christchurch and Wellington could be on the cards.

AirAsia X chief executive Benyamin Ismail says flights to Christchurch and Wellington could be on the cards.

AirAsia X will fly a 377-seat Airbus A330-300 with 365 economy seats and 12 premium flatbed seats.

Chief executive Benyamin Ismail said once the brand was strong in New Zealand it would look at cities beyond Auckland, of which Christchurch would be a logical choice.

The low cost carrier offered a short-lived service to Christchurch from April 2011 to May 2012 when it withdrew to focus on Asia and Australia.

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Another option was flying to Auckland two days a week and Wellington four days, he said.

"I'm more than happy to explore that.

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"There are a lot of other cities we can look at, but let's build our brand first, once it's strong then we can go seek other destinations."

Ismail said the Auckland to Kuala Lumpur launch fares had been snapped up by Asian tourists, but New Zealanders had been slower on the uptake.

"About 70 per cent of our load are coming from Asia. Out of Auckland, not as much but I think it's all about building that brand."

AirAsia X will compete with Jestar, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia on the the Gold Coast to Auckland route. 

The three current airlines operate 20 services a week using narrow body aircraft offering about 7000 seats a week, but capacity varies depending on the time of year.

A CAPA Centre for Aviation report said AirAsia Indonesia had been considering Auckland as a new non-stop destination from Bali, but a service via Gold Coast could be a more viable option.

Ismail said the long haul service could potentially fly to Auckland, but it would be a tough route to make work because it would be mostly one way traffic from Auckland, .

CAPA said another option would be for AirAsia Indonesia to fly from Gold Coast to another city in New Zealand.

The AirAsia group will have a 5.8 per cent share of international seat capacity in Australia in May overtaking Air New Zealand as the fourth largest foreign airline in Australia, CAPA said.

Ismail said a lot of Asian tourists which flew AirAsia were first time flyers. After their first flight they often flew two or three times a year.

They also had more disposable income to spend at a destination because they had saved on airfares and could travel with the whole family, he said.

 - Stuff


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