Traders at KK International Airport struggle to pay rent, staff salaries

KOTA KINABALU: Airport traders at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport 1 here are at their wits end on how they are going to pay for the rent for their stalls and salaries of their workers during the MCO that was implemented since March.

The traders claimed they have not been earning a single sen during the past few months following the shutdown of airport activities and closure of the country’s borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they still have to pay their rent.

“We have had zero business since March, but the airport management still wants us to pay our rental, ” said one of the business operators who did not want to be named.

He said after a discussion was held with Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) management, it was agreed that the rental payment for six months would be forfeited on the condition that the tenants settle their rents from April to June and renew a one-year-long rental agreement.

“Previously, when the economy was good, we were required to renew our agreement every three months. But now, under such uncertain circumstances, they want us to pre-sign a one-year agreement and to pay the rent. This is unfair.

“Because once we sign, we cannot shorten or cancel our tenure. Who will risk it and sign such agreements under the circumstances now?” he added.

The operator claimed the traders were also required to sign a three-year parking spot rental agreement or else they will have to pay their parking fees on an hourly basis.

“Our rental is not cheap. For example, an 8x8 sq ft stall can cost up to RM12,000 in rental per month. Now that we have no business at all for several months since March, how do they expect us to pay?” he asked.

He added the traders also have to pay for their workers’ salaries despite zero income during this period.

The trader said a letter of appeal has been handed over to MAHB management. There has been no response so far.

Following this, the operators decided to meet the Malaysia-China Business council board director (Cultural and Tourism Committee) Datuk Yong Chiew Lip for help.

“We hope Yong can bring this matter to the higher authorities, ” said the operator.

Yong said he will arrange a meeting with the MAHB management to find an amicable solution to the matter.

The council is working to help businesses and industry players facing problems due to Covid-19.

Those who need information or assistance during this pandemic can send their enquiries to

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