3 May 2013
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is sticking to its June 28, 2013 target opening date of the new low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang (klia2), amid several analysts predicting a six-month delay with possible cost overruns of up to RM4.5 billion from RM4 billion.
Its senior general manager of operations Datuk Azmi Murad said the airport operator "will issue a statement if necessary" should there be a possible delay.
"We will come back to you when we’re ready to issue a statement on klia2. Just be patient?e’ll come back with a statement if there is any. As far as we’re concerned, we’re making preparations for end of June," he told reporters after the welcoming reception of Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) inaugural flight to Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
CIMB Research and Alliance Research, in their reports, believe that the commissioning of klia2 will be delayed by six months to January 2014 given that MAHB will still need to run tests on the terminal and the airlines will also require sufficient preparation time to move into the new terminal, and that a delay will likely result in cost overruns.
Azmi however declined to comment on a possible increase in klia2’s construction costs.
Earlier, PAL assistant vice-president of external affairs, Jose E.L. Perez de Tagle said the Philippines flag carrier, which made a comeback to Kuala Lumpur yesterday after ceasing operations in 2006, is planning to jointly increase frequency of its Kuala Lumpur-Manila route with low-cost regional arm Philippine Airlines Express (PAL Express) to up to 12 times a week from daily now by the end of this year.
"Together with PAL Express, we are currently flying daily to Kuala Lumpur but we would like to increase this (frequency) to perhaps 10-12 times a week later this year," he said.
PAL is operating four weekly flights between Kuala Lumpur and Manila using the Airbus 319, while PAL Express currently flies the same route three times a week.
PAL Express had on Wednesday relocated its operations from LCCT to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to better aligned with PAL.
De Tagle said the daily flights offered by PAL and PAL Express will provide them with a platform to achieve "good sales targets".
"It might be slow going at the start, but all the ingredients are there for more tourism, more growth and healthy passenger and cargo traffic between the Philippines and Malaysia."
This is the second time PAL is resuming flights between Kuala Lumpur and Manila. It first suspended its flights back in September 1998 after the Philippines carrier collapsed under the weight of financial woes and labour-management disputes.
PAL resumed operations between Manila and Kuala Lumpur in October 2003 after an absence of five years and then pulled out of Kuala Lumpur again in 2006 due to financial losses on the route.
"Now, after these (seven) years of building up our sales and promotions and given the promising figures of tourist arrivals, we believe it’s time for us to really upgrade the service which is why PAL Express started flying last year and now we have a combined product of daily flights to KLIA and while still sustaining our partnership with Malaysia Airlines," said de Tagle.
PAL is targeting a passenger load factor of 80% to 90% on the new route. Its inaugural flight yesterday saw a 70% load factor.
"That is a pretty good start for the first flight. Of course we hope to build this up in the coming months, especially as we go into international summer and winter seasons then we would be able to offer more promotions," he added.
Last year, a total of 508,774 tourists from the Philippines visited Malaysia, reflecting a 40.5% growth from the previous year.
Tourism Malaysia director of international promotion division for Southeast Asia, Syed Yahya Syed Othman said it aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from the Philippines to 600,000 this year.