4 December 2011
Kang Siew Lisunbiz@thesundaily.com
AirAsia Bhd attracted the attention of the people recently when it launched a verbal attack on Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) over the new budget terminal in Sepang (klia2) and the latest hike in airport tax.
In an ironic twist, new documents released by the airport operator over the weekend revealed that the budget carrier which had questioned MAHB’s move to build a bigger klia2 at nearly twice its original cost and the delay in its completion, showed AirAsia was the main cause.
According to the documents, AirAsia had requested MAHB to increase the new terminal’s capacity by 50% from the initial 30 million to 45 million passengers a year, and for a fully-automated baggage handling system and a third runway – things AirAsia had blamed MAHB for, accusing it of misusing billions of ringgit in public funds.
Meanwhile, AirAsia, while laudable in its efforts to make air travel more accessible and affordable for the masses, may find its campaign against the latest hike in airport tax on international flights at the current budget terminal unnecessary as a RM7 hike (from RM25 to RM32) would not deter people from flying.
Still, the blame game raises the question over the government’s silence in the affair. Is the government trying to keep a low profile in the hope that the issue will go away on its own?
Already industry players are saying the spat between AirAsia and MAHB will only get worse, and make Malaysia’s aviation industry an object of mockery and ridicule.
"Before the situation turns ugly, it is time to stop this search for people to blame and being divided and separated, and instead focus on how to stay ahead while Malaysia is still number one in low-cost travel in Asia," said a senior aviation executive.
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