Customs & Immigration Delays at Avalon AirportIn December last year, Air Asia X began flying twice daily from Melbourne’s Avalon Airport (AVV) to Kuala Lumpur. It became the first regularly-scheduled international route for Melbourne’s second airport, which is used mainly by low-cost carriers.

Air Asia’s move to Avalon Airport has been largely successful. On average, the flights have been relatively full – although sale fares from Avalon to Kuala Lumpur for as low as $151 return may have helped with that!

Unfortunately, it seems that there aren’t enough Australian Border Force staff on hand to process all of the inbound and outbound passengers in a timely manner. This often results in extensive delays for passengers.

As international flights are new to Avalon Airport, teething problems are not entirely surprising. But for passengers, the delays are rather frustrating – especially as many have already had to travel a long way to get from Melbourne to Avalon Airport.

One AFF member reports that it recently took their friends 2 hours and 50 minutes to exit the airport after arriving at Avalon on flight D7218, the overnight service from Kuala Lumpur. There was no particular reason for the delay – it just took ages to clear immigration, collect their luggage and clear customs.

No specific reasons such as missing luggage, immigration or quarantine/custom issues. It just took that long to get out of the airport.

D7 is the only international airline that operates into AVV which may explain the long processing time – I wonder how Immigration, customs and quarantine schedule their personnel shifts. There are 2x D7 rotations. One morning rotation and another 12 hrs later.

According to this member, there were 6 immigration officials on duty that morning. Air Asia X’s Airbus A330 can hold up to 377 passengers.

This is not the first report of long customs and immigration delays at Avalon Airport. The Geelong Advertiser recently reported similar issues relating to a lack of staff for processing passengers.

It’s possible that a lack of staff could be compounded by Air Asia X’s short turnaround times. The low-cost carrier allows just 1 hour and 15 minutes to turn around its planes at Avalon Airport, meaning departing passengers need to be processed around the same time as those arriving. As Air Asia X is the only airline operating international services from the airport, it is probably not efficient to bring in more staff than there already are. But this can result in bottlenecks when a planeload of passengers arrives.

The delays appear to be worse for arriving passengers than for those departing Avalon.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: AVV Delays [In Processing – 2+ hours common]


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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