Friday August 27, 2010
By B.K. SIDHU
Both MAHB and AirAsia are looking into it
PETALING JAYA: Aerobridges may be a feature at the country’s new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) for which the ground breaking is slated for Monday.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has proposed this facility and AirAsia Bhd is mulling over it.
“We have not used that before but it is a proposal and we will look at it. As long as our cost does not go up (too much) and we can still maintain the 25-minute turnaround time, we will be happy to have aerobridges.
“It would be for the comfort of passengers,” AirAsia Bhd group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes told StarBiz.
AirAsia has resisted aerobridges in the past as it needs to keep its cost base low to enable the airline to offer low fares to travellers. The challenge ahead would be to change with the times and offer comfort whilst still manage at low cost.
The ground breaking, to be witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, will mark the construction of the new LCCT, which is expected to be completed in 2012.
The RM2bil terminal can handle 30 million passengers and will be close to the existing KL International Airport (KLIA) terminal. There will be 72 gates and a new dual-mode runaway that will allow for 25 minutes turnaround time and increase efficiency.
It is learnt that the LCCT will be modelled after KLIA. A joint venture between UEM Construction Sdn Bhd and Bina Puri Holdings Bhd will build the terminal.
Wanting to consider MAHB’s proposal for the aerobridges bodes well for the renewed friendship between the two which had a nine-year spat.
“We had a good meeting with MAHB recently and things are progressing the right way. We should finally, after 11 years, have a terminal that will propel our growth,” Fernandes said.
The new LCCT is an important step for the industry. Even though its construction has been delayed from its original completion date of 2011, Fernandes is no longer furious.
To him, an airport with better facilities and amenities is worth the wait. In the interim, the existing LCCT terminal will be extended to cater for growth.
“I think, after nine years, we have seen some good cooperation between us and huge economic benefits. We have discussed with MAHB the development of permanent LCCTs at Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang. We also intend to use Langkawi much more.
“The next three to four years looks exciting for us. With the airport development, we expect to see tremendous growth potential. The new airport will make KLIA a premier hub in Asia and that augurs well for our business.”
MAHB managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad could not be reached for comments.
It is unclear if the express rail link (ERL) will be extended to the new LCCT. Fernandes is proposing that KTM Bhd consider linking the new LCCT with its current network to give an alternative to travel from the north to south of the peninsula and at the same time, promote tourism.
This article is a verbatim copy of the original article from The Star.