KUALA LUMPUR: klia2 in Sepang, which is still targeting a May 2 opening, may once again miss the deadline as its major tenant, AirAsia Bhd, is unlikely to be able to complete renovation works at the main terminal building with less than two months to go.

It is learnt that AirAsia, which is expected to take up about 80% of the space at the new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT), would need at least three months to complete renovation works at the main terminal building.

However, as of yesterday, The Edge Financial Daily was made to understand that the budget airline has yet to make any preparations to move into the building.

AirAsia will also be required to move its aircraft support services from the present LCCT, which was originally designed as a temporary terminal and will later be turned into a cargo warehouse once klia2 is ready.

In a statement yesterday, AirAsia said it has yet to receive any official notification from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) for the airline to operate out of klia2.

“We were informed that the Cabinet on Feb 26, 2014 had agreed to appoint independent qualified technical advisors to address the issues that recently surfaced.

“For AirAsia, the safety and interest of our passengers are our utmost priority. We look forward to moving to our new home and start operations at klia2 as soon as every aspect of the new terminal has been certified safe,” it said.

AirAsia also reiterated its request for a service level agreement (SLA) from MAHB that includes “indemnification on safety, timeliness of the project, and assurance of the safety of lives and its assets”.

“We are committed to grow klia2 and make Malaysia the next global hub like Dubai, but to facilitate this, we need our partners to understand the low cost business model and provide certain guarantees so we can carry over the cost savings to our passengers,” said AirAsia, adding that there are “other unresolved issues such as the check-in systems” which it is working with MAHB to resolve.

It is understood that at the most recent national ORAT (Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer) steering committee meeting on Monday, chaired by Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk Long See Wool, all klia2 stakeholders comprising commercial retailers, government agencies like the Customs and Immigration Department as well as the various airlines including AirAsia did not raise any issue about meeting the May 2 opening date.

When contacted yesterday, Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Chandran Rama Muthy told The Edge Financial Daily that the hybrid airline is already making preparations to start with renovation works at the main terminal building and to move into its new home on May 2.

“We want to be the first to land at klia2,” he said, adding that the airline would continue to offer competitive fares out of klia2.

In a statement on Tuesday, MAHB said ORAT is currently ongoing to prepare the airport for the May 2 opening date.

“The ORAT working committee, chaired by MAHB senior general manager of operations Datuk Azmi Murad, communicates and monitors the progress of the airport readiness and preparation for the airport transfer on a regular basis.

“The opening date of May 2 has been communicated clearly to all stakeholders including airlines, government regulatory agencies, and recorded at these regular meetings.

“At the recent national ORAT steering committee meeting, it was reiterated that the government is firm on the opening date of May 2 for klia2 and that all stakeholders must work together to ensure the seamless and successful opening of the national project,” MAHB said.

klia2 was initially scheduled for opening on June 28, 2013 but it was postponed to May 2 this year. The joint venture company between UEM Construction Sdn Bhd and Bina Puri Holdings Bhd – the contractor for the main terminal building – was blamed for the delay as it was unable to complete the work by the June 15, 2013 deadline.

More recently, doubts on the new opening date arose after the UEMC-Bina Puri JV failed to issue the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) for the klia2 terminal building according to the stipulated timeframe.

However, the contractor is reportedly currently rectifying the sewerage system in order to issue the CCC to MAHB by mid-April.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 07, 2014.