Forget integrating KLIA-KLIA2 and prioritise operational issues, MAHB told

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by TMR FILE

AIRASIA Group Bhd said airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) should prioritise operational and passenger experience issues at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) instead of planning to integrate it with KLIA.

AirAsia said MAHB and the Malaysian Aviation Commission, which had endorsed the interconnectivity plan, have failed to design an execution model for the interlining.

The low-cost carrier (LCC) claimed that MAHB has not engaged in the appropriate consultations with AirAsia or its long-haul arm AirAsia X Bhd over the matter, despite the airlines accounting for 97% of the overall passenger traffic at KLIA2.

“Major infrastructure and capital expenditure-intensive plans to integrate KLIA and KLIA2 need to be put on hold, and instead, more critical issues need to be prioritised by MAHB,” AirAsia CEO Riad Asmat said in a statement yesterday.

AirAsia’s response came days after The Malaysian Reserve reported that a fully connected KLIA-KLIA2 could face delays due to resistance from some airline operators.

The initiative is devised to shorten customers’ connecting time and improve overall aviation business productivity at the airport.

Riad said MAHB should focus on bringing KLIA2 facilities up to the same standard as KLIA, citing issues on uneven aprons and taxiways, guest spaces and boarding gates. He also singled out the Penang International Airport as being overcrowded and having a too small check-in area as volume grows.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail claimed that the connected KLIA-KLIA2 concept does not make any sense, particularly for budget travellers.

“We do not see any benefit in interlining the full-service carriers (FSCs) at KLIA with LCCs at KLIA2. In our 18 years of operations, we have not received any request for interlining services from FSCs, including our own flag carrier which operates out of KLIA,” Benyamin said.

AirAsia also took aim at Mavcom, saying that the regulator’s endorsement of the integrated terminal concept and the airside interlink proposal is more about the Regulatory Asset Base framework, which seeks to protect and maintain MAHB’s earnings, rather than about the passengers themselves.

The KLIA-KLIA2 integration debate adds to the list of contentious issues between AirAsia and MAHB, including the passenger service charge (PSC).

The High Court recently ruled that AirAsia and AirAsia X must pay RM40.6 million in outstanding PSCs — which the two airlines had refused to collect from passengers — to MAHB’s subsidiary, Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd. AirAsia is appealing the decision.

The airline also launched a #FairAirportTax campaign against the PSC last month.