AirAsia X hopes to fly to Melbourne next month

An AirAsia X plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport

BANGKOK - Long-haul budget carrier Indonesia AirAsia Extra, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based AirAsia Group, is expecting to launch a new route between Bali and Melbourne next month pending approval from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

The carrier was to launch the flights in December but had to postpone after CASA refused to issue its approval.

Indonesia AirAsia Extra CEO Dendy Kurniawan said on Monday that the Australian regulator would announce its decision by the end of this month.

He went on that the airline had received a positive response from the Australian authority and that the service was expected to begin operations in March.

"We've received a positive response from CASA, so I am confident that we'll be able to fly the route," he told reporters on the sidelines of the AirAsia ASEAN Pass launching event in Bangkok.

As previously reported, Indonesia AirAsia Extra, or Air Asia X, has advertised and sold tickets for the route since October last year, with the inaugural flight initially scheduled for Dec. 26.

On Dec. 25, the airline informed passengers that the flights had been cancelled as the airline had failed to receive regulatory approval in time.

Passengers, who had mostly booked flights for year-end holidays, were routed through Kuala Lumpur, increasing their journey time from six to 13 hours.

Some passengers were also offered refunds and credit shell, a credit account that can be used to buy tickets for other flights.

At that time, Dendy insisted it was common practice to advertise and sell tickets for routes that had not yet secured regulatory approval.

On Jan. 19, the airline saw an Airbus A330-330 make the inaugural flight serving the Denpasar-Taipei route.

Dendy said the airline had intended to kick off operations on the Taipei route next month but had got the go-ahead from Taiwan sooner than expected.

"We were planning to make our Denpasar-Melbourne route our inaugural flight, followed by Denpasar-Taipei," Dendy said. "But we received the permit from Taipei first. We will officially launch the route by the end of March, by which time we will fly the route four times a week," he continued.

The airline currently operates two Airbus A330, with its hub in Denpasar.

The airline is also planning to launch new routes from Indonesia to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during the second quarter of this year. Dendy revealed that the airline was also looking for the opportunity to fly to Japan, South Korea, China and New Zealand.

Indonesia AirAsia Extra is the third affiliate of AirAsia X, which focuses on mid- and long-haul flights with routes longer than four hours, following the launch of Malaysia AirAsia X in 2007 and Thailand AirAsia X last year.