8 June 2013
By Yong Yen Nie
The Straits Times
Saturday, Jun 08, 2013
THE opening of Malaysia’s new budget terminal, which can handle 45 million passengers a year, will be delayed by more than six months from its end-June target date, two research houses said.
Thanks to frequent design changes, the RM4 billion (S$1.6 billion) Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, or better known as klia2, may now open only in the first quarter of next year, to allow for months of test runs, Maybank Investment Bank and Alliance Investment Bank wrote recently.
Ms Angeline Chin, an analyst at Alliance Investment Bank, said the expected launch date is a conservative estimate, after recently meeting the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) management, the project manager of the new airport. MAHB, a government-linked company, operates KLIA and several airports, including in India and Kazakhstan.
"It is certain that the klia2 opening will be delayed for at least six months," she told The Straits Times. "Because of the delay, we also expect the project to face some RM500 million in cost overruns, mainly due to higher consultancy and labour fees."
AirAsia, klia2’s chief tenant, confirmed the delay on Tuesday, but it did not say for how long.
A report released by Maybank Investment Bank yesterday said that while klia2 is 92 per cent ready as at the end of last month, test runs for operational readiness would take six months before AirAsia can move in.
The existing low-cost carrier terminal, which opened in 2006 with a capacity of 15 million passengers annually, has been overloaded for years. Last year, some 20 million passengers passed through the terminal.
The main KLIA terminal, built 15 years ago, is operating at close to its capacity of 40 million passengers annually.
MAHB said last month that it would not be able to open klia2 in time as the contractors, UEM Construction and Bina Puri Holdings Bhd, had fallen behind in the construction schedule. But the contractors disputed the claim, saying the delay was caused by the indecisiveness of MAHB and AirAsia on the terminal design.
MAHB did not return calls or e-mails from The Straits Times.
Mr Mohshin Aziz, an analyst at Maybank, told The Straits Times that MAHB is tight-lipped over when it expects klia2 to open following repeated delays.
When first announced in 2009, klia2 was targeted to open in September 2011. The opening was then moved to June 28 this year, to coincide with the opening of KLIA 15 years ago.
"In the first place, the management of MAHB has set unrealistic expectations, as airports in the region have taken four to five years to complete," Mr Mohshin said. Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport took 4 and half years to build, he said, while KLIA took five years.
Meanwhile, construction of Singapore’s new Terminal 4, which will cater to both full-service and budget carriers, began this year. It is slated to be ready in 2017.