Airport boss 'devastated' by AirAsia pullout

Air Asia X has pulled its KL to Christchurch service. Photo / AFP
Air Asia X has pulled its KL to Christchurch service. Photo / AFP

Christchurch Airport is working on a replacement for the AirAsia X services, due to end this year.

The Malaysian-based airline will withdraw from the Christchurch - Kuala Lumpur route at the end of May.

AirAsia X said it was ending its service because of climbing jet fuel costs, which have risen 30 per cent since the service began in the South Island almost a year ago.

Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult told Newstalk ZB today he was upset by the closure of the service.

"Personally I'm devastated, I've put 10 years of effort into get this service, and after only 12 months, it's pretty disappointing."

"It's the low cost model on a long-haul route. It would have worked alright had it not been for a 30 per cent increase in [fuel] price over the last 12 months."

He said the airline service closure would drop the usual 50,000 arrivals to the South Island over a 12 month period to between 25,000 and 30,000.

The focus was now on signing up a replacement service between Asia and New Zealand.

"It's disappointing but we'll get back and try again. We're talking to several airlines at the present time out of various Asian ports, and we're pretty confident within the next 12 to 24 months we'll get another one."

He said the 80 to 90 per cent loadings on the AirAsia X route had proven there was demand for the service.

- APNZ

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