SEPANG (June 23): AirAsia Bhd has officially written to Transport Minister Datuk Sri Liow Tiong Lai and his ministry to better position klia2 as the region's low-cost carrier hub, as Kuala Lumpur strives to establish itself as the Dubai of the East.
AirAsia, the largest customer of klia2, also insisted on addressing the airport as Low Cost Carrier Terminal 2 (LCCT2) instead.
In a statement today, AirAsia also expressed its sincere appreciation to Liow for reiterating how the airline has grown the low-cost carrier market in the country as well as the region and the minster's willingness to continue to support the growth of Malaysia's low-cost industry.
It stated the group was always ready to collaborate and work together with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) for the benefit of the local aviation industry and Malaysians.
However, it said, "We can't say the same for MAHB."
AirAsia clarified that the group has no intention to change the "KUL" official code but insisted on addressing klia2 as LCCT2.
The group said it is fully aware that the official code for Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), as registered with the International Air Transport Association as "KUL", cannot be changed or altered.
For the record, when AirAsia was operating at the LCC Terminal, the airport code used was also "KUL". The airport terminal was, however, named LCC Terminal — which stands for Low Cost Carrier Terminal.
The group said that as agreed by MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, AirAsia or any other party may call the airport LCCT2 as it is freedom of speech.
"We wish to start addressing the airport terminal as LCCT2, which is the true identity of the terminal," AirAsia added.
Badlisham had on Tuesday (June 21) said using another name for klia2 violates aviation laws.
The temperature of the relationship between AirAsia and MAHB has dropped further following the campaign by AirAsia to start calling klia2 as LCCT2 and the carrier's dissatisfaction against the airport operator on its refusal to admit the airport terminal is meant for low-cost carriers, which shows that MAHB feels low-cost carriers are irrelevant.
The group had said it would begin to start listing its main hub at klia2 as LCCT2 on websites, tickets and promotional materials after the campaign was shot down by the airport operator.
AirAsia also rebutted the claim by MAHB that the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB) and klia2 are meant to be part of an integrated hub as there is a lack of seamless connectivity between the terminals to encourage passengers to interlink and stimulate travel on both full-service and low-cost carriers.
It highlighted that MAHB's claim is merely words without any supporting evidence.
AirAsia said the lack of airside trains and landside buses connecting KLIA MTB to klia2 clearly shows the terminals are not part of an integrated hub. Passengers are charged RM2 one way for using the only train connecting the two terminals; and the train operate on a sparse schedule.
"This discourages travellers from moving freely between the two terminals and utilising the extensive connectivity that airlines, especially AirAsia, have created," it said.
Instead, the low-cost carrier proposed that MAHB focused on a dual-hub strategy.
"KLIA MTB should be led by the national carrier, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, supported by the One World alliance, while LCCT2 should be positioned as the region's low-cost carrier hub," it noted.
AirAsia said its Fly-Thru traffic has grown by almost 50% every quarter, with more and more travellers flying into Kuala Lumpur and using it as a transit hub.
"If MAHB can admit to the importance of LCCT2 as a low-cost carrier hub, we can work together to strengthen the position of Kuala Lumpur and reclaim the title of Asia's largest LCC (low-cost carrier) hub from Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport.
"AirAsia pioneered low-cost travel in Asia. We want to continue to spearhead low-cost travel in this region and feel it is time for MAHB to acknowledge the need to have a dedicated low-cost carrier hub in Malaysia," AirAsia said.
Shares in AirAsia closed 2 sen or 0.76% higher at RM2.66 today, for a market capitalisation of RM7.46 billion.