Monday December 20, 2010
By LEONG HUNG YEE
AirAsia Bhd has informed Malaysian Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) that it does not require aerobridges at the new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) that is currently being built.
“We have put in a writing to tell MAHB that we do not require aerobridges at the new terminal. We have made our representation officially,” Group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said after a signing ceremony to form a 40:60 joint venture with three Philippines partners Antonio O. Cojuangco Jr, Dr Michael R Romero and Marianne B. Hontiveros to set up AirAsia Philippines.
Fernandes said the usage of aerobridges would be a cost for AirAsia as the charges for the aerobridges were on per flight basis.
AirAsia flies to 140 routes across 65 destinations and with over 400 flights daily.
He said AirAsia’s aim was to provide low fare for everyone and passenger might have to pay extra for the service.
However, he said the aerobridges could be used in terms of very bad weather.
“If it rains very heavily, we can use it and pay for it then.”
“We suggested six to eight aerobridges for use during wet weather. The airline will pay for the use of the aerobridge which will be charged accordingly by MAHB,” Fernandes said, adding that simple and adequate facilities were sufficient for the low cost carrier to operate in.
AirAsia was previously reported to be against the use of aerobridges at the new LCCT to keep its low cost model and in keeping with its quick turnaround time.
Fernandes explained that with aerobridges, the carrier may not be able to turnaround their flight within 25 minutes.
He said AirAsia usually opened up both its front and back exit for passengers to embark and disembark allowing it to turnaround faster against the front exit when using aerobridges.
Fernandes expects the new LCCT to be ready in 2013 although MAHB said it would be completed by 2012.
Separately, Fernandes opined that the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) should consider allowing other parties to operate airports.
He proposed that low-cost terminals be built in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Penang and Langkawi as there was a need for LCCTs in these states.
Fernandes said Asean was fast catching up. He said Singapore was already expanding its LCCT and Indonesia was already looking at more LCCTs.
“I hope, MAHB will not miss out on the opportunity,” he said, adding that what has been done in KL should be replicated in other states.
“You can see the tremendous growth we have brought and the same economic growth can be generated in other states which will spur tourism and the state economy.”
Fernandes said it had started talks with MAHB but had not been successful so far.
He believes that if MAHB was not interested, other parties would want to build such LCCTs at other states.
“Why can’t we have private terminals. They should open it up. If they don’t want to do it, let others do it, anyone would want to do it if AirAsia wants to fly.
“There’s no monopoly in any business in Malaysia,” Fernandes said.
Meanwhile, AirAsia has clarified that it was currently evaluating its choices of airport between Subic International Airport and Clark International Airport as its hub in the archipelago.
AirAsia would be investing US$8mil for its 40% stake in Air Asia Philippines.
AirAsia would hold 40% equity in AirAsia Inc, the joint venture company set up for AirAsia Philippines. The new airline was expected to begin operations in August 2011 with an initial working capital of US$25mil.
OSK Research was optimistic with the long-term growth prospects offered by AirAsia Philippines.
“Although the associate is expected to be loss making over the first few years, we are optimistic on the Philippines long term prospects, underpinned by the growing propensity for air travel, its archipelagic geographic landscape, the growth in the number of Filipinos working abroad and untapped tourism potential,” it said.
The research house said despite the intensity of competition in the Philippine aviation space, it believes that there was still a lot of room for market share gain, notably in the international segment as AirAsia Philippines would be able to leverage on AirAsia’s branding and comprehensive network.
OSK expects AirAsia Philippines initial start-up losses of an average net loss margin of 10%, which would be rather minimal over the immediate term as it would kick off with a small fleet.
“However, we are confident that earnings could start trickling in after two years of operation given the experience gleaned from the setting up of its Indonesia and Thai associates,” it added.
This article is a verbatim copy of the original article from The Star.