Airport News January 2012



Malaysia increases size of new KL budget terminal

Malaysia has opted to increase the size of the planned new low-cost carriers terminal (LCCT) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), offering annual passenger-handling capacity of 45 million, 50 percent more than originally planned.
The terminal – already under construction – will also have a 4km runway instead of the previously planned 2.5km, a fully automated baggage-handling system, a new control tower, 68 gates and eight remote stands.
The original design was for a two-storey terminal building covering 150,000 square metres. Now, in response to a directive from the Ministry of Transport (MoT) to segregate domestic and international passengers, the floor space will be expanded by 50 percent in a three-storey building.
The new LCCT, which will be the biggest such facility in the world, will be connected to the main terminal by a 360m long skybridge.
Other facilities at the terminal will include an airside transit hotel, premium lounges, a 50,000-square metre shopping arcade, a maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) hangar and a seven-storey parking lot accommodating up to 6,000 vehicles.
Malaysia Airports Holdings (MAHB) Managing Director Bashir Ahmad says that 80 aerobridges will be installed at the new facility, for the convenience, safety and security of passengers. He adds that the decision to build the new terminal was made in response to appeals to the government on behalf of expectant mothers, people with movement difficulties, the elderly and children.
However, Tony Fernandes, chief executive of Asia’s largest budget airline AirAsia, remains dismissive of the plan, insisting that the airline will not use aerobridges as it sticks to its low-cost operating model.
An MoT official says LCCs will be instructed to use the aerobridges, consistent with an international civil aviation ruling that passengers are not allowed to walk across an airport’s tarmac to and from aircraft. LCCs that are earmarked to operate at the new terminal are: AirAsia, AirAsia X, Indonesia AirAsia, Thai AirAsia, Cebu Pacific Air, Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia Airways.
MAHB said in October 2011 that it would not install aerobridges at its LCCT, since AirAsia’s low-cost business model requires the quickest aircraft turnaround times for higher utilisation rates.
Bashir says that the plan for a bigger terminal and increased facilities has inflated construction costs 51.28 percent to US$1.25 billion.
Publicly-listed MAHB will pay for the construction itself. Bashir says the company has several funding options, including internal funds, taking on debt and going to the equity markets. The Terminal is slated to be operational in April 2013.
MAHB officials dismiss the notion that the government-backed agency may raise the current passenger service charge (PSC) of RM32 (US$10.21) at the new terminal due to the higher cost of construction.
“We can’t simply increase PSC, as we need the approval of the government,” Bashir says.
William Dennis

 Chinese sticks to airports plan, despite losses
Despite a combined loss in 2011 of 1.68 billion yuan (US$266.4 million) at 135 of China’s 180 airports, the government says it will continue to build new facilities as part of its plan to improve airport infrastructure and enhance connectivity within the country.
Most of the unprofitable airports are secondary facilities which do not support a sufficient number of flights to break even. These airports operate with subsidies from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and local governments.
Under China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, the government will invest 1.5 trillion yuan to build 56 new airports – including the second Beijing International Airport (BIA). Of the existing airports, 91 will be expanded or upgraded and 16 are marked for relocation. Overcapacity problems affect 26 of the county’s airports, while only 35 have decent baggage handling systems, the government says.
The total investment will include developing transport infrastructure at the airports.
William Dennis

THE CIVIL Aviation Authority of Nepal has signed a seven-year deal with communications and IT specialist SITA to tackle check-in queues at the country’s main airport, Tribhuvan International Airport, which handles 85 percent of the country’s tourist traffic. The airport lacks common-use facilities, resulting in long queues. SITA plans to introduce its AirportConnect Open common-use platform at the airport, allowing more efficient use of check-in areas. The platform will initially be implemented at 24 check-in counters, later expanding to 36.
THE PHILIPPINES Government has approved a US$27 million upgrade at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The work will include structural upgrades on the terminal and interior work and a new exit taxiway. The airport was only designed to handle 4.5 million passengers a year, but passenger throughput has now topped 7 million.

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