Petaling Jaya: Malaysia’s low cost airline terminal (LCAT) will open for business in the first week of March, three weeks ahead of Singapore’s Changi Budget Terminal, thus becoming South-East Asia’s first dedicated no frills terminal.
“We are working on a tentative date of March 6 for the LCAT to be fully operational. Passengers and users of the LCAT would have to take note of the date and plan their travel accordingly,” Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd general manager Azmi Murad told StarBiz yesterday.
AirAsia would shift its current base at the KL International Airport (KLIA) to the new terminal from that date. Its Thai and Indonesia units, Thai AirAsia and AirAsia Indonesia, would also operate from the LCAT.
“We are opening the LCAT not to race ahead of Changi but because we are ready to do so,” he said.
Singapore had announced earlier that its budget terminal would be opening on March 26.
Azmi said: “We are proud to have a dedicated LCAT to purely handle low cost airlines. The airport is built to meet the requirements of a low cost operation whereby carriers would be able to turn around their aircraft within 25 minutes.
“This facility will be one of the biggest in terms of dedicated low cost carriers in the world and would meet the demands and expansion of AirAsia. We will fully support AirAsia’s low cost operations at the new terminal,” he said.
Work on the LCAT began in June last year and as of Jan 25, the LCAT was 93% complete, five days ahead of its original schedule, Azmi said.
He expects the the contractor to hand over the LCAT to airport operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), at the end of February. Malaysia Airports (Sepang) is a unit of MAHB.
The LCAT is located about 20km from the KLIA. It will occupy a total area of 34,000 sq m, of which 28,00 0 sq m is for the terminal, and 6,000 sq m by AirAsia. The terminal can handle 4,000 passengers an hour.
The LCAT would have 30 aircraft parking bays; 72 check-in counters will be fully operational by the launch date.
The terminal would also have nine sets of centralised security screening machines and 24 immigration counters, of which 12 are for arrivals and 12 for departures.
Two counters would be located at the Auto Gate reader.
There would be five baggage carousels, of which three would be for domestic arrivals and two for international arrivals, Azmi said.
A shuttle bus service will ferry passengers from KLIA to LCAT and vice-versa. Talks on public transportation from the Kuala Lumpur City Centre to the LCAT are underway.
There would be 1,100 parking lots and 100 motorcycle parking bays for passengers using their own vehicles. Taxis and bus holding areas have also been designated.
In keeping with its low cost, no-frills design, the new facility will not have aerobridges; thus passengers will have to walk from the building to the aircraft. But there would be enough eateries at the terminal, besides retail shopping outlets.
Last year, KLIA handled 23.2 million passengers, of which four million were low cost passengers.
The government funded the development of LCAT, which cost RM108mil, compared with the S$45mil Budget Terminal at Changi.
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