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Twice-daily flights to southeast Asia are set to land in regional Victoria within a year as AirAsia ditches Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport for Geelong.

The Victorian government says an international Avalon Airport terminal will be up and running in 12 months, ferrying hundreds of thousands of passengers to and from Kuala Lumpur.

The project is expected to cost more than $20 million, create 30 construction jobs and about 200 ongoing roles, with up to 50 reserved for ex-car manufacturers.

‘We’ve had our share of bad news in Geelong, with Ford and of course Alcoa and the heavy manufacturing leaving our shores … which meant we needed to look at alternative employment methods,’ Tourism Minister John Eren told reporters on Sunday.

The announcement boosted calls for a rail link to Avalon Airport by its owner Linfox Group.

‘We need the rail link, but that’s natural,’ Linfox founder Lindsay Fox AC said.

‘That was promised by the previous government. They might sort of react from now.’

The federal government was backing the Avalon expansion but when asked about a rail link, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was ‘early days’.

Over time, Avalon could also host flights to Indonesia and Thailand, AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes said.