MAHB has given almost everything AirAsia asked for to operate at klia2

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has complied with almost everything requested by AirAsia Bhd for it to operate from the new low-cost carrier terminal, klia2.

MAHB senior general manager (operations services) Datuk Azmi Murad said the low-cost carrier — which has expressed reservations about moving to klia2, citing several concerns, including security — is set to be the biggest gainer by operating from the new airport.

The few things on AirAsia’s wish list that MAHB could not grant were a spa and a museum, he told Bernama in an interview.

With flight operations at klia2 beginning on May 2, and the current low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) to close on May 9, there are no two ways about it, but for AirAsia to move and operate from the new airport, he said.

Azmi said the transfer to klia2 has been agreed to by all parties, including the Department of Immigration, the Royal Malaysian Customs, the police and the health authorities.

AirAsia is expected to utilise 80% of the new low-cost airport located in Sepang.

Last Wednesday, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi announced that the LCCT would be closed on May 9, but AirAsia said it would not agree to transfer to the new airport unless some of its concerns were addressed. The issues cited by the carrier included klia2’s functionality, safety and security.

Azmi said that MAHB has run the Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT), which is a trial to stimulate functionality and operational aspects, since early February and said that “we are very satisfied”.

He said the RM4 billion klia2, which will handle about 45 million passengers a year and is certified by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), is “not a low-cost terminal, but the airlines that utilise it are low-cost”.

On the concerns raised by AirAsia over the security at klia2, Azmi said the new airport is more secure than the current LCCT as it will implement a passenger processing system by SITA —  a leading service provider of integrated IT business solutions.

He said it is AirAsia, which refused to use the SITA system, commonly used by airport operators and preferred by all airlines, as it is insisting on using a manual check-in system.

“We cannot compare klia2 with what is being used to operate at LCCT, as the the current low-cost terminal is a totally manual airport ... But given the voluminous passenger capacity expected to be handled by klia2, it is just impossible to operate manually like before,” he said.

Regarding the aerobridges which AirAsia contended were a waste of money, Azmi said aerobridges are important for passengers —  especially those who were physically challenged, senior citizens, and mothers with infants and small children.

He said the current charge to the airline for the use of the aerobridge stands at RM85 per usage. Based on a full A320 aircraft carrying 180 passengers for both arriving and departing flights, the cost of using the aerobridge works out to be less than 25 sen per passenger. This makes MAHB’s charges for the aerobridge among the lowest in the region, he said.

Azmi said MAHB has continually received feedback from the public requesting all airlines to use aerobridges in order not to inconvenience the passengers.

“It is up to the airlines if they want their passengers to walk, but we will still provide that service,” he said, adding that MAHB will also be providing bus services.

Azmi: klia2 is not a low-cost terminal, but the airlines that utilise it are low-cost.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 7, 2014.


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