AirAsia wants PM to step in over KLIA2 standoff

PAC chief Nur Jazlan Mohamed to summon AirAsia executives to testify in an ongoing inquiry into KLIA2. — File pic
PAC chief Nur Jazlan Mohamed to summon AirAsia executives to testify in an ongoing inquiry into KLIA2. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — AirAsia today sought the intervention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the budget carrier’s worsening row with Malaysia Airports over the new KLIA2 low-cost terminal.

The carrier’s chief executive, Aireen Omar, insisted that the new airport to replace the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) had deviated from its promise of catering to budget airlines and travellers, and was no longer what AirAsia wanted.

According to a report in The Star today, Aireen said the new airport was a matter of national importance that necessitated the intervention of the prime minister.

“We will be the anchor tenant at the new airport, accounting for more than 80 per cent of KLIA2’s traffic, hence the critical need for KLIA2 to be fully functional and operationally viable in the long term,” The Star quoted her as saying.

Aireen was earlier today reported as saying that AirAsia would not quit the LCCT for KLIA2 when KLIA2 was due to open on May 2, citing safety concerns at the new terminal.

It claimed that independent consultants had found depressions on the airport’s apron and runway.

“We believe it is crucial to ensure that remedial steps are undertaken prior to a transfer, which will mitigate aviation risks,” Aireen was quoted as saying in a statement yesterday.

“AirAsia also believes that the operational readiness and airport transfer (ORAT) period for a transfer to support the size of AirAsia’s operations would be substantially more than the two months prescribed by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), which in our opinion is unrealistic and overly optimistic,” she said.

AirAsia and MAHB have been in a running battle over the long-delayed KLIA2.

AirAsia group chief executive Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has repeatedly criticised the ballooning cost to build the airport, and called on MAHB to keep costs down for the benefit of the public.

Yesterday Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said it would summon executives from the budget carrier to testify in an ongoing inquiry into the new airport.

PAC chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the changes to KLIA2’s design — which caused the delay of its completion and shot up the cost — were made to suit the demands of the budget carrier, which is among the low-cost terminal’s biggest stakeholders.