AirAsia X to serve Christchurch from Kuala Lumpur

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New Zealand's Christchurch International Airport has reached an agreement with AirAsia X to have the Malaysian low-cost carrier start services there from Kuala Lumpur.

The agreement between the two sides was signed in Christchurch today. Christchurch Airport chief executive Jim Boult says the facility has been developing this opportunity over the past two years and is "ecstatic" that the service has been approved.

Christchurch Airport has not disclosed a launch date or specific route.

Earlier this year AirAsia X chief Azran Osman-Rani said the carrier would consider adding a New Zealand destination as an add-on fight to its service to Australia's Gold Coast.

New Zealand's distance from AirAsia X's Kuala Lumpur hub pushes the range of its fleet of Airbus A330-300s. While the carrier has two longer-range A340-300s, they are used primarily for flights to London.

Osman-Rani comments that there are "no details yet" of the route while Christchurch Airport says: "Details of the deal will be released in the coming weeks."

Christchurch Airport says the agreement will generate up to 70,000 more visitors per year. AirAsia X's A330s have 377 seats, suggesting the route will be operated with less than a daily frequency.

Malaysia Airlines' only New Zealand destination is Auckland while Air New Zealand does not serve Kuala Lumpur.

The Trans-Tasman market is one of the most liberalised in the world and permits foreign carriers to operate fifth-freedom flights between Australia and New Zealand.

Aerolineas Argentinas, Emirates and LAN operate on the Trans-Tasman link but not from the Gold Coast. Only Air New Zealand and Qantas Group's Jetstar operate direct flights from the Gold Coast to Christchurch.