14 June 2016

A COLD war between Asia’s largest budget carrier AirAsia Bhd and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), the country’s biggest airport operator, may be brewing again.

This follows AirAsia’s latest pitch to promote the budget terminal klia2 in Sepang as low-cost carrier terminal 2 (LCCT2).

klia2 was built to replace the previous LCCT, due to AirAsia’s expansion and rising passenger numbers.

The airport — which started operations on May 2 2014 — is fully built, owned and operated by MAHB.

The two companies — AirAsia and MAHB — coming at odds with each other is not strange. The feud goes back to 2009 when klia2 was built.

Yesterday, AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes urged MAHB to stop denying that klia2 is a low-cost hub.

The budget carrier, he said, will launch a campaign to promote klia2 as a budget terminal called LCCT2.

“To me, klia2 doesn’t mean anything. LCCT2, on the other hand, is synonymous with low-cost. It’s a brand that we build up together with MAHB and it shouldn’t go to waste.

“I urge MAHB to stop denying the fact that it is a low-cost hub,” said Fernandes in a statement.

AirAsia Bhd CEO Aireen Omar said the airline as a group occupied 97 per cent of operations at the airport with an average of 37,000 guests daily.

In terms of Fly-Thru, Aireen said, Singaporeans have started coming to Kuala Lumpur to fly to other destinations instead of Malaysians going to Singapore to catch onwards flights.

“In view of the high volume of traffic bought into Kuala Lumpur by AirAsia, we need MAHB to acknowledge that Kuala Lumpur is a true low-cost hub with enormous potential and they need to change their mindset to facilitate the need of a low-cost model and its rapid growth,” she said in the statement.

Aireen said the Don Muaeng airport in Thailand had overtaken klia2 as the world’s largest LCC airport as it works closely with customers to bring in passenger traffic.

MAHB, she urged, needs to adopt the same approach for it to be relevant and regain recognition.

In its response, MAHB said klia2 is Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s (KLIA) second terminal and a crucial component of KLIA hub.

“MAHB would like to advise that klia2 is the registered name of the terminal under the International Air Transport Association and calling it by any other name would mislead and confuse the public and passengers,” it said.

Although klia2 is currently mainly used by low-cost carriers, it is designed to cater to all types of airlines as it supports the overall KLIA capacity.

“klia2 was meant to enhance KLIA’s connectivity and elevate its position as a competitive hub within the region,” MAHB added.

Original Source: www.nst.com.my

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