Direct flights between Christchurch and Kuala Lumpur on a new Asian airline are expected to create hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars for Canterbury.
The deal with new Malaysian airline AirAsia X was yesterday confirmed by Christchurch International Airport after a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
That meeting was revealed as the reason for Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker’s trip to Asia on Thursday.
AirAsia X will start the first low budget service to New Zealand about March, with four return services a week between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch.
A group of tourism, city and airport officials gave a crucial presentation in the Malaysian capital yesterday to confirm the new services, which should upgrade to daily flights if passengers fill the planes.
Parker said from Kuala Lumpur last night that the services would bring $70 million to $80m of annual economic benefit to the city according to an independent study, and stimulate 600-700 jobs in the region.
“I think we’ve achieved an absolute coup for our city … we beat out Auckland, we actually beat out Sydney and it’s going to revolutionise for a lot of Kiwis flying into the international marketplace because it’s going to introduce incredibly low fares.”
CIAL chief executive Jim Boult said he and other airport executives had been in talks with the Malaysian airline for two years.
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