We have lift-off!

Avalon Airport has officially become Victoria’s second international airport, with AirAsia flight D7218 from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne scheduled to touchdown at 8.20am tomorrow (Wednesday).

Spanning 7500 square metres, the $48 million international terminal has created 100 full-time jobs and includes two duty free stores, a full bar and cafe, and is the first airport in Australia to have CT cabin baggage screening.

AirAsia X Malaysia chief executive Benyamin Ismail said 14 flights would arrive and depart from Avalon’s new international terminal in the first week of operation.

It is expected more than 500,000 people will go through Avalon’s international terminal in its first year of operation.

“Avalon International offers our guests many advantages including a hassle free, streamlined arrivals and departures experience and direct access to one of Australia’s greatest tourism icons – the Great Ocean Road,” Mr Ismail said.

“As the flagship carrier to launch services from Avalon Airport, this is a game changer for consumers, for tourism and the industry.

“Australians wanting to fly to Kuala Lumpur or connect to our global network of more than 130 destinations worldwide becomes a reality … and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Smoking ceremony at Avalon International Terminal opening with Corrina Eccles, Wawadawurrung Woman. Pic Marco De Luca

Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings said the terminal was designed for quick and convenient use.

“This terminal has the latest security technology, is the most accessible terminal in Australia, and I think is the best small airport in the world,” Mr Giddings said.

“This new terminal is consistent with our slogan, ‘flying made easy’.

“This terminal has room for expansion, and we look forward to announcing further routes, and to housing further airlines in the future.”

As reported by Star Weekly, more hotels across Wyndham could be on the horizon as the council seeks to capitalise on the expected boost in tourism that the international terminal may provide.

Wyndham council’s tourism and major events portfolio holder, John Gibbons, said in May: “We want people to stay here rather than jump on a bus and go all the way to the city. We’re open for business, we’re an events city.”

Linfox Airports executive chairman David Fox said Avalon first tried to secure Air Asia for Avalon 10 years ago but was unsuccessful.

“Today is a dream come true. We’ve had a vision, we’ve been dreaming about this for 20 years,” Mr Fox said.

“What we want to do is open this particular region up to the world.

“We are planning on extending this facility over several occasions over the next journey – it’s a generational asset.”