Australia's Jetstar to Fly Direct to Kuala Lumpur

Australian flag-carrier Qantas Airways' subsidiary Jetstar plans to start direct flights between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur this year, making it the second foreign budget airline to fly to Malaysia, Jetstar said Tuesday.

Jetstar plans three weekly three flights starting Sept. 9, using 303-seat Airbus A330-200s, a statement from the airline said.

Despite being a budget carrier, it will offer a business class section, the statement said. The flights are subject to regulatory approval.

The Kuala Lumpur-Sydney sector is currently controlled by Malaysia's national carrier Malaysia Airlines, as Qantas does not fly to Malaysia.

Jetstar will be the second fully foreign-owned low-cost carrier to fly to KLIA after the Philippines' Cebu Pacific Airways, which made its debut last month.

Jetstar spokeswoman Simone Pregellio denied that the new flights are part of an arrangement to allow Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia to fly to Australia.

AirAsia has said it plans to spread its wings beyond the Southeast Asia-China region to Europe, India and Australia. "We are not working with AirAsia," Pregellio told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Still, Jetstar plans to offer low fares through online booking with the one-way economy fare from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney costing 633 ringgit (US$180), provided the booking is made before Wednesday.

Bashir Ahmad, managing director of Malaysia Airports, said Jetstar will be the first Australian airline flying to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. "This is indeed a breakthrough for Malaysia Airports," the statement quoted him as saying.

Jetstar started long-haul international flights in November 2006, and now directly serves five international markets from either Sydney or Melbourne, flying an existing 18 weekly return services.

These markets include Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Bali in Indonesia and Honolulu in the United States. It is scheduled to start a daily service to Osaka from Sydney and return via Brisbane from March 25.