HANOI - Budget airlines AirAsia has no choice but to move its operations to KLIA2 by May 9 while the government looks into all issues and concerns raised by the company, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The prime minister said the government would study all the reasons and concerns raised by the low-cost airlines which resulted in its reluctance to relocate its operations to KLIA2.
"What I would like to stress here is that there is a need for a dialogue with the government and MAHB (Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad) to find an amicable solution for the benefit of everyone.
"If they say we don't want to move, it sounds like an arrogant statement. But, if they say they have strong reasons and they want to discuss with the government, then it is more suitable (statement)," Najib told reporters after his meeting with industry captains here.
Najib, accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, was on a three-day official working visit, his first since he took office as the prime minister in 2009, to Vietnam at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung.
Joining him on his visit were Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Agriculture, Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and senior officials from the three ministries.
On higher cost of operations as one the reasons cited by the low-cost airline, Najib said, all issues and concerns should have been put on the table for consideration earlier.
"But now that KLIA2 is already almost completed. We can't go back and said we don't want to move there.
"They have to move there. We have to make sure that there is no concern about safety (at KLIA2)," he said, adding that as business enterprise, the government would also put forth a viable proposition to AirAsia.
On Friday, MAHB senior general manager of operations Datuk Azmi Murad had said that despite the budget airline's refusal to move to KLIA2 until safety issues were resolved, it would still be opened on May 2.
He had said that MAHB would proceed with the opening of KLIA2 as other airlines and agencies were already ready to relocate there.
Last week, AirAsia had appealed to Najib to intervene and resolve issues relating to a move from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) to KLIA2.
"We would like to appeal for the involvement of our leader... as his intervention is crucial in resolving this national issue," the low-cost airline's chief executive officer Aireen Omar was quoted as saying.
She had said that the airline had wanted to continue using the LCCT after the May 9 cut-off date as it had concerns with some of KLIA2's facilities.
Aireen had also argued that as AirAsia would account for more than 80 per cent of KLIA2's traffic, it should be given a voice in the decision, adding that although the company was ready for the move, it had to be done under the right circumstances.
On April 2, AirAsia group had announced that it would be staying put at the LCCT after Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi had said that KLIA2 would open as scheduled and the LCCT would no longer be operational after May 9.