Tuesday February 24, 2009
By CHOI TUCK WO
AirAsia Bhd wants the Government to work out an efficient, low-cost structure deal for the airline to continue operating from the KL International Airport (KLIA).
Its CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the airline could bring in 30 million passengers annually if its costs were reduced.
He said they are prepared to stay at KLIA instead of building a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Labu, Negri Sembilan.
"All we ask for is a good cost-structure and greater efficiency so that we can grow to 30 million passengers annually," he told Malaysian journalists after signing an agreement with Barclays Capital and BayernLB to finance 15 new A320-200 aircrafts costing a total of US$700mil (RM2.5bil) yesterday.
Fernandes hoped the ideas and benefits for the proposed Labu LCCT could be gestated in KLIA for greater cost efficiency.
"Labu was a great idea. I stand by it," he said in response to reports quoting Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as quashing any possibility of reviving the project.
Najib had said the project could not continue because Sime Darby did not want to fund the RM800mil infrastructure cost.
Fernandes said the government must find a new model for LCCTs if it is serious in making Kuala Lumpur the regional aviation hub and gateway to Asean, China and Australia.
"It doesn't matter where we are. What's important is a highly efficient airport with low costs," he said, adding he would return to Malaysia tomorrow to continue discussions with Malaysia Airport Bhd.
On AirAsia X's inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to London Stansted on March 11, Fernandes said five Australians from Melbourne would be among the 316 passengers flying to Britain.
Describing the five as taking the "longest, low-cost long-haul" flight, he said it showed that Malaysia could be the gateway for many people travelling to Europe and vice-versa.
He also said that 65% of the seats for March and April had been sold out, and 64% of the passengers were travelling from Britain to Malaysia, including Malaysians residing in Britain.
This article is a verbatim copy of the original article from The Star.