MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) welcomed the government’s decision to open the country’s second low-cost terminal airport on the anniversary of the KL International Airport (KLIA), the main aviation hub.
MAHB managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad said the official opening of klia2 on June 28 would mark a double celebration.
According to the schedule, the airport is expected to be ready for operations by May but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak expressed his opinion that there should be no rush in opening the new airport until it is ready.
The new date will enable the airport authorities to overcome teething problems with the new set-up, said Najib.
KLIA, which was opened in June 1998, had experienced teething problems in the first two weeks before seeing progress in its services subsequently.
Costing over RM3.6 billion, klia2 will be the world’s largest purpose-built terminal for low-cost carriers (LCCs) with the capacity to serve up to 45 million passengers annually. This means it is ready to cater for the explosive growth in low-cost travel.
“With the (new) date on June 28, that will give more time for testing and all,” Bashir said, when met after the launch of AirAsia’s 1Malaysia aircraft livery by Najib at the LCCT here last Saturday.
He said many airports worldwide failed due to their eagerness to start operations without resolving the glitches first.
“We must not rush into a big project, we have to do it well and make sure every thing is ready when we are open.”
On another note, Bashir was optimistic about the 2013 outlook, describing it as a good year for the airline operator.
He said on the cards, MAHB will be mana-ging two airports abroad, one of which will be based in Asia. He did not elaborate.
There were recent news reports saying MAHB is making a bid for UK’s Stansted Airport.
It currently provides airport operation and technical services for several international airports which include Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in India, and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkey.
Meanwhile, AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said he was looking forward to moving into the new address in May.
“The construction of klia2 matches Air-Asia’s large investment in the purchase of aircraft, which now totals 475, as well as marketing, route development and branding.”
He recalled on the carrier’s growth since it started a decade ago. Then it had a staff of 250, two aircraft and six routes but the number has risen to 10,000 staff who operate 126 aircraft, serving almost 80 destinations and 172 routes.
Tony also thanked the government, saying the cut in airport tax had enhanced Malaysia’s potential as a hub for LCCs and was also a catalyst in creating AirAsia as a global airline.
AirAsia has seen a 30 per cent growth in passenger growth annually and in 2012 the number rose to 36 million passengers.
Its regional base in Jakarta, he said, is also important in preparing for a more liberalised aviation industry under the Asean Open Skies initiative, which is set to come into force in 2015.