30 Oct 2010

'Exciting' deal links South Island by air to Asia

3:31 pm on 30 October 2010

The Christchurch International Airport company has beaten rival bidders to win an air link with a new Malaysian budget airline.

AirAsia X will run direct flights between Christchurch and Kuala Lumpur, beginning about next March with four return flights a week.

The airport company says it headed off bids from cities such as Auckland and Sydney for the deal, which, according to an independent study, will be worth at least $70 million a year to Christchurch.

Chief executive Jim Boult says the service will connect Christchurch with many Asian countries using Kuala Lumpur as a hub.

"We are linked with the fortunes of Asia," Mr Boult says, "and that's where the majority of our buisiness is going to come from in the future.

"This is just a massively exciting event for the airport but also for Christchurch, Canterbury and for the whole of the South Island."