AirAsia refuses to move to KKIA Terminal 1

KOTA KINABALU - A tug of war has begun between Malaysia Airports Bhd (MAB) and AirAsia over the budget airline's refusal to relocate its operations to Kota Kinabalu International Airport's (KKIA) Terminal 1.

MAB senior general manager Datuk Azmi Murad said there was no valid reason for AirAsia to continue operating from the cramped Terminal 2 but they would not force it to relocate by shutting down the low cost terminal.

He said it was up to the Government or the travelling public to compel AirAsia to move its operations to Terminal 1.

"It is the right of the public to demand for a more comfortable travelling environment at Terminal 1," he said.

He said the state government wanted to consolidate passenger services into a single terminal at KKIA.

Azmi said the national economic council and the Transport Ministry had ordered AirAsia to move to Terminal 1 on five occasions, the last one being in May with an Aug 1 deadline.

He said Terminal 2 was meant as a temporary facility when AirAsia began operations there in October 2002.

Terminal 2 was designed to handled two million passengers annually but last year some 3.6 million passengers passed through its doors.

"Terminal 2 is being used well above what it was designed to handle while just over three million passengers are using Terminal 1 which can handle nine million passengers," he said yesterday.

He said with an annual projected passenger growth rate of 5 per cent, Terminal 1 would reach its capacity in about six years.

Azmi also dismissed claims that the relocation move would mean higher travelling costs for AirAsia passengers, especially those to international destinations.

He said AirAsia passengers in airports such as Penang and Kuching were using the main terminals there and paying passenger service charges like those of other airlines and this had not affected their business there.