AirAsia opts for own KL airport
Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia has unveiled plans to shift to its own US$460 million airport outside Kuala Lumpur, abandoning the current budget terminal next to Kuala Lumpur’s main international hub. The move has thrown into doubt the national airport operator’s plans to build a new Low Cost Carrier Terminal next to Kuala Lumpur International Airport […]
January 8, 2009
Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia has unveiled plans to shift to its own US$460 million airport outside Kuala Lumpur, abandoning the current budget terminal next to Kuala Lumpur’s main international hub. The move has thrown into doubt the national airport operator’s plans to build a new Low Cost Carrier Terminal next to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), to replace the existing facility that opened in 2006. AirAsia has rapidly outgrown the existing terminal adjoining KLIA, which has no rail links to the city or the main airport and has become increasingly crowded. The terminal has a capacity for 10 million passengers and a provision for expansion to 15 million. “We believe in lowering our business costs. It is the key to our success,” AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes told a press conference this week, according to AFP. “The new airport, which will be known as KLIA East, will provide more capacity for aircraft and passengers and enable us to bring down fares,” he said, adding that costs could be cut by 30 per cent. Fernandes rejected criticism that KLIA has more than enough capacity to handle AirAsia’s growth plans and that the sprawling city has no need for what would be its fourth airport. “I think we know what we need, we are not silly,” he said. “There is nothing here (at the old terminal) to add value to our passengers. Allow us to take our destiny in our own hands.” Fernandes said the new airport – linked by new rail and road links – would be exclusively for AirAsia, and designed to handle up to 30 million passengers annually. Construction could begin within six months with a completion date of March 2011 and will be build by Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby. The new terminal is designed to handle 30 million passengers a year with about 70 parking bays for aircraft. “We have a fantastic partner, it will enhance tourism. We will also have a theme park, it will be like Orlando airport, where Disneyland is located,” Fernandes said. AirAsia has grown rapidly having secured more international rights than had been expected, as well as handed many domestic routes by Malaysia Airlines during an overhaul of the national carrier. The expansion of the current low-cost terminal is due to be completed by March, but by then AirAsia will already have exceeded its enlarged capacity with some 15.7 million passengers a year. “Our projection showed that within one year the airport will be bursting at its seams again,” Fernandes said. Even with a completely new LCCT terminal, KLIA’s runways cannot accommodate AirAsia’s expanding fleet that will include a larger number of wide-bodied jets, he said. AirAsia had earlier said it expected handle 60 million passengers a year by 2013.