SkyBus is adding capacity at Avalon Melbourne Airport ahead of the launch of international services from AirAsia X by introducing double deck buses.
- SkyBus began serving Avalon Airport in early 2017 and plans to add capacity from Avalon to Melbourne with new double decker buses;
- SkyBus’ decision to begin operating buses from central Melbourne to Avalon led to a large increase in load factor for Jetstar’s services from Avalon;
- An expanded SkyBus service to central Melbourne could be critical to the success of AirAsia X’s new service to Avalon from Kuala Lumpur.
SkyBus began operating a shuttle service from Melbourne Avalon Airport to the Melbourne Central Business District in early 2017. Avalon became the fourth airport served by SkyBus along with Melbourne Tullamarine, Gold Coast and Auckland.
SkyBus currently has two single deck buses meeting every flight at Avalon, with one bus heading to central Melbourne with a stop in Werribee and another bus heading to Geelong. Avalon Airport is about 55km from central Melbourne and about 20km from Geelong, which is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road.
Avalon is now served with 49 weekly domestic flights from Jetstar. AirAsia X plans to introduce two daily flights to Avalon from Kuala Lumpur later this year, after Avalon completes construction of a new international terminal. AirAsia X will stop operating from Tullamarine, where it has operated since 2008 and currently has two daily flights, when it moves to Avalon.
Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings told CAPA TV on 01-Mar-2018 that SkyBus “has ordered double deckers on the back of this and I think they’re coming in at about April or May this year.”
Mr Giddings added that SkyBus’ launch of services to Avalon slightly over a year ago was the “biggest single change for growth at Avalon since my time, and I’ve been there nine years”.
Passenger traffic at Avalon increased by approximately 10% in 2017 to 800,000 despite no capacity increases from Jetstar, the only airline currently serving the airport. Jetstar operated 49 weekly flights to Avalon throughout 2017. Jetstar’s load factor increased by nearly 10pts last year to approximately 85% as Avalon became more accessible thanks to the new SkyBus service.
“SkyBus have been tremendous [and] they’re putting a depot out there,” Mr Giddings said. “The numbers have just gone up, our load factors on airlines have just gone up incredibly ever since we introduced SkyBus.”
Most passengers on Jetstar’s flights to Avalon are from or are heading to Melbourne. Avalon Airport expects AirAsia X will have a similar passenger profile on their new Avalon flights as they now have at Tullamarine.
“I don’t see there’ll be a big change there at all,” Mr Giddings said. “It’s predominantly an inbound market [and] inbound people want to go to Melbourne.”
He added that passengers will consider Avalon as a Melbourne airport “as long as we’ve got the connections right, which we have. We’ve got SkyBus operating now, who are taking people directly from Avalon into the Melbourne CBD. Exactly the same services what’s offered at Tullamarine.
“I don’t think there’ll be any difference on inbound. What I’ve got to really concentrate is convincing people from Melbourne to drive down to Avalon to utilise [the new AirAsia X] service without deteriorating the yield for the airline. That’s what my big challenge is, and that’s why we really have invested a lot in a marketing programme to encourage people from Melbourne to use the service.”
For more on AirAsia X’s move to Avalon and what it means for the airport, click here to read an extensive analysis from CAPA – Centre for Aviation.