Monday, December 5, 2011
AirAsia today blamed Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) for all the delays and additional costs to KLIA2, claiming they could be put down to the airport operator’s failure to set up a joint panel to decide on the new terminal’s ideal specifications.
“No joint action committee was set up to get all the right requirements from Day One,” AirAsia commercial director Jasmine Lee told reporters at the airline’s office here.
She pointed out this was despite then-Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recommendation in November 2008 to set up the panel after meeting with both parties.
Without the joint committee, AirAsia had no direct control over the design and construction of the new low-cost carrier terminal as it could only make requests and suggestions to MAHB, Lee said.
She pointed out that AirAsia had never wanted the new terminal to be built to the west of the existing KLIA as the soil there was too soft to support a runway and would require the construction of an additional runway.
“It’s nothing to do with aerobridges or no aerobridges or the baggage handling system. The core problem is with the site itself,” she stressed.
AirAsia was responding to MAHB’s claims that the higher cost of KLIA2 was due to requests from the carrier for additional capacity.
The estimated cost of the project has nearly doubled to RM3.9 billion from RM2 billion following the airport operator’s decision to boost passenger per annum (PPA) capacity to 45 million from 30 million previously.
MAHB had also said AirAsia’s decision in June to switch from a semi-automated baggage handling system (BHS) to one that was fully automated had pushed back the terminal’s completion date by six months.
KLIA2 is now expected to be completed only in April 2013.
AirAsia, MAHB’s biggest customer, has denied asking for a larger terminal and more powerful baggage system in line with the airline’s projections that 45.3 million PPA would be using KLIA2 by 2020.
Lee today reiterated that the decision to go with a fully-automated BHS was made unilaterally by MAHB without consulting AirAsia.
MAHB went ahead with the budget carrier’s original request in June this year for a fully-automated BHS despite AirAsia settling for a modified semi-automated system subsequent to that, she said.
MAHB said its board of directors made the decision on July 4 to proceed with a fully-automated BHS on concerns that AirAsia would change its mind again in future, when it would be too difficult to accommodate such changes.
The public finger-pointing between the two parties began when AirAsia boss Tan Sri Tony Fernandes rubbished MAHB’s justifications for the increased cost of KLIA2 on micro-blogging site Twitter on November 29.
He said increasing the terminal capacity to 45 million PPA from 30 million made little sense as that would make it larger than “the whole of Singapore’s Changi Airport”.
But MAHB shot back with a rebuttal yesterday, pointing out that AirAsia had been the one to estimate that passenger traffic at the new terminal would reach 28.7 million by 2015, 45.3 million by 2020 and 60.3 million by 2025.