KOTA KINABALU: AirAsia will have to discuss with airport officials its reluctance to move out of the low-cost terminal and start operating at the international terminal at Kota Kinabalu International Airport in June.
The Sabah government has no say in the matter and hopes that AirAsia will not drag it into the airline’s bid to stay put at the low-cost terminal more popularly known as Terminal 2.
State Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said: “It is up to AirAsia to work out its problem with Malaysia Airports Berhad and the Federal Government as they have the final say on how and where airlines should operate within KKIA.”
AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes, during a special press conference for the media from Sabah and Sarawak on Friday, said the airline was not keen to move out of the Terminal 2 as its costs would increase and in turn force it to reduce flights, causing Sabah to lose some one million tourists.
Fernandes said the state government had been cooperative but an official of Sabah Tourism Board (STB) was among those causing some problems in the airline’s bid to stay on at Terminal 2.
Responding to Fernandes’ aspersions against the STB official, Masidi said: “STB does not own or operate airports. In this case, KKIA is owned and operated by MAB, a government -linked company under the purview of Transport Ministry.
“They decide how airlines ope-rate at their airport, so for him (Fernandes) to suggest otherwise is not just a misrepresentation of the facts but unfairly dragging STB into the problem,” Masidi added.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said his ministry was surprised by Fernandes’ stand on the matter as AirAsia had signed a letter of undertaking with the ministry concerning the relocation to Teminal 1.
Rahim said the RM1.6bil newly upgraded airport was built to cater to the needs of airline companies’ growth.
There were extra costs but these would be justified with improved quality of service, he added.
On Fernandes’ concern that the relocation would cost passengers to pay RM51 for the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) from the current RM25 at the low-cost terminal, Rahim said the RM51 applied to passengers going abroad while domestic travellers would only pay RM9.
The low cost terminal will be converted for cargo handling.
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