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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Tue, 23 Jul 2019, 11:30 PM


We did not force AirAsia to move — MAHB

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and AirAsia Group Bhd are at loggerheads once again — this time over the relocation of the low-cost carrier’s (LCC) operations in Kota Kinabalu three years ago.

In a statement yesterday, MAHB denied forcing AirAsia Group — the largest LCC in Asia by passengers carried — to move to Terminal 1 (T1) of Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) from T2.

“At no point in time did MAHB force AirAsia Group to move to T1,” said the airport operator, which manages 39 airports in the country.

“From the outset, T2 was meant to serve as a temporary terminal catering to LCCs until a bigger and better facility at T1 was completed.

“Once completed in 2010, all other LCCs had moved to T1 with the exception of AirAsia Group, which only moved in December 2015 driven by their own need for capacity and growth,” it added.

It was responding to remarks made last Thursday by AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, who — after meeting with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal — said the LCC was forced out of T2 three years ago and was never in favour of moving into T1.

Fernandes was quoted as saying that the airline was back in talks with relevant agencies, as well as the Sabah state government, to restart T2 as a dedicated LCC terminal.

He added that since AirAsia relocated to T1 on Dec 1, 2015, the airline has been posting “flat growth” and failed to spur tourism for Sabah.

In its defence, MAHB said contrary to Fernandes’s claims, AirAsia’s passenger traffic growth, which hovered between 2% and 3% in 2014 and 2015 in T2, jumped by 5% in 2016, 11% in 2017 and 15% in the first half of this year in T1.

“This trend was not unique to AirAsia alone as other airlines with international routes also registered encouraging growth of 39% year-on-year (y-o-y) in 2016 and 43% y-o-y in 2017,” it added.

MAHB went on to say the move to consolidate all airport and flight operations under one roof at T1 resulted in an increase in Sabah’s international tourists by 9.4% to 1.2 million last year versus 2016.

“Total tourist arrivals [in Sabah] also increased 7.5% to 3.7 million in 2017 from 3.4 million in 2016,” it added.

MAHB said T1 has also attracted six new international airlines, bringing in tourists from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan. There are now 25 airlines operating at KKIA.

The airport operator further stated that it has allocated RM17 million to assist various destination marketing activities undertaken by Sabah and airlines to promote new routes such as Wuhan, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shenzen, Taipei and Singapore.



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