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klia2 on track for May opening

SEPANG: A Malindo Air Boeing 737-900ER yesterday successfully landed on Runway 3 of the world’s largest purpose-built terminal for low-cost carriers, klia2, signalling that the terminal might be ready for its official opening on May 2 next year.  

Acting Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who witnessed the trial landing, promptly gave his assurance that the terminal is on course to begin operations on the targeted day, and that it is safe for aircraft to land on the runway.

The RM268.8 million third runway is 3,960m long and 60m wide and is capable of accommodating any type of aircraft including the Airbus A380 and the Antonov An-225.

The runway, separated from the second runway by 2.2km, is KUB Malaysia Bhd’s maiden project in airport construction. The trial landing was to test the smoothness of Runway 3 as well as the precision approach path indicator system and the approach lights.  

The entire construction of Runway 3, including the airport ground lighting, is expected to be completed by the end of November.

Addressing the media after the landing, Hishamuddin said the terminal is 94% completed, but declined to give further details on the uncompleted portion. This was an improvement from the 92% in August.

Earlier there were rumours that the runway may sink as the area where klia2 is being built is said to have “soft soil”. Hishammuddin, who is also the defence minister, countered, “If our runways sink, we would not have retained our seat on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).”

He added: “The klia2 task force will continue to monitor the progress, and I am confident that the terminal will be ready as scheduled.”  

The klia2 project has been a source of much controversy for Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), due to its ballooning cost after changes were made in the design of the airport and its size.

Klia2 was originally targeted for completion in September 2011 and the initial plan was for it to handle a passenger volume of 30 million, but this was scaled up to 45 million.

The baggage handling system had to be changed to accommodate low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd’s request, while the control tower had to be relocated on the advice of the Department of Civil Aviation.

This caused the launch date to be revised five times, with the project cost ballooning from an earlier estimate of RM1.6 billion to nearly RM4 billion.   

MAHB had wanted the main contractor for the project, UEM-Bina Puri JV, to complete the airport by June this year. When the company was unable to meet the target, MAHB slapped it with liquidated ascertained damages of RM6 million a month until the completion of the terminal in April 2014.

UEM-Bina Puri JV had argued that it should not be blamed for the delay as the change in the airport’s design took  time to plan and implement.

 

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 8, 2013.

 

 

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