PETALING JAYA: Two years since airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) was tasked to build the permanent low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang now known as KL International Airport 2 (KLIA2), its holding company Khazanah Nasional Bhd has come out to say that the timely delivery of the airport is critical for the country's air transportation development.
In Khazanah's annual review media briefing held last Tuesday, managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said it was crucial for KLIA2 to be delivered on time and executed well to support future air traffic growth.
The statement was made when Azman was providing an update on the RM58bil investments made by Khazanah and its majority-held units for the three year period from 2009 to 2011. Khazanah has a 54% stake in MAHB.
The current targeted completion date for KLIA2's terminal building is April next year with the runway to be completed two to three months later.
This deadline marked a six-month delay from the original deadline set, which was the third quarter of this year, when the development was first announced in early 2009.
MAHB managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad told reporters at KLIA2's ground-breaking ceremony last August that the process involved in building KLIA2 had taken time due to its extensive tender process as well as MAHB not wanting to compromise on the terminal's quality and passengers' safety.
It was also learnt through sources that the delay then in getting the project off the ground was further compounded as the airport operator and low-cost carrier AirAsia were not able to agree on airport specifications.
The contract for KLIA2's main terminal construction over a 20-month period was awarded last July to a joint venture between UEM Construction Sdn Bhd and Bina Puri Holdings Bhd.
However, renewed concerns that KLIA2 may not be up and running by next year have been expressed by AirAsia Bhd group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes and are factored into the airline's decision to defer its new aircraft delivery as he only expects KLIA2 to be ready in 2013.
When contacted by StarBiz, Fernandes said he was glad to note Khazanah was taking an active role in emphasising the timely delivery of KLIA2, with the quality and safety aspects of the airport being maintained.
He also expressed his hope for MAHB to help the airline keep cost low for passengers travelling out of KLIA2, especially in terms of airport taxes. Airport taxes for domestic flights and international flights out of the LCCT are RM6 and RM25 respectively.
“I hope Khazanah and MAHB will look into developing more LCCTs in the country such as in Kuching to facilitate the growth of the low-cost air travel segment. There is also a need to extend the current LCCT in Kota Kinabalu to enable our route expansions and with the advent of Firefly operating out of the main terminal,” said Fernandes.
Although KLIA2 is meant to accommodate the growth seen in low-cost carrier (LCC) passenger numbers locally and open to other LCCs, the key push for its construction was budget carrier AirAsia's rapid expansion over the years and the sharp rise in passenger growth.
AirAsia, which operates from the current LCCT in Sepang, has outgrown the terminal despite MAHB expanding the facility between 2008 and 2009 to cater for some 15 million passengers per annum from 10 million passengers previously.
To re-cap, AirAsia sought to build its own LCCT in 2008 to cater for the rise in its passenger volumes and future growth but the Government stepped in and dissuaded AirAsia from doing so, as a newer and bigger LCCT in Sepang had been part of the National Airport Master Plan, a comprehensive study on the development of Malaysia's airport capacity over the next 50 years.
KLIA2 will be able to handle up to 30 million passengers per annum, with expansion capacity of up to 45 million passengers per annum.
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