14 September 2015
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and its prodigal client AirAsia Bhd are seeking a way to bury the hatchet at a “peace dinner” to resolve months of acrimony over everything from overdue airport charges to dissatisfaction over service.
The two companies have agreed to talk it all over at a dinner that is being planned at the end of the month, people with knowledge of the arrangement told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
MAHB MD Datuk Badlisham Ghazali and senior GM (operations) Datuk Azmi Murad are expected to attend the dinner while AirAsia’s major shareholders, Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun, and CEO Aireen Omar are slated to attend as well.
“A high-level official from the Transport Ministry is also expected to attend as a mediator and decision maker. It might be the minister himself (Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai),” said the sources.
The talking points would be strictly confined to disputes on the mega hybrid airport, and will not be mixed with the separate issue of AirAsia’s reluctance in shifting to Terminal 1 of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).
According to another source, Liow had instructed both MAHB and AirAsia to avoid public bickering and remain silent on KKIA, as the minister promised to discuss the issue at the ministry level to come up with an amicable solution.
The dinner is expected to act as the last option to resolve the defects at klia2’s apron, taxiway and parking bays before AirAsia files for a legal case in court against MAHB for RM409 million in damages.
The airline had served a letter of demand on July 31 with a 14-day ultimatum to respond, which the airport operator dismissed at the eleventh hour as a baseless demand.
During an exclusive interview with TMR last month, Aireen had highlighted that since moving into klia2 in May last year, AirAsia’s internal safety team have lodged some 160 soil depression reports to MAHB and a joint safety committee of the airport.
The budget carrier also recorded four aircraft roll-back incidents since then, with the latest incident during the peak Hari Raya travelling period, where a Airbus A320 aircraft rolled back, causing a bent wheel and an eight-hour delay.
Ties between MAHB and AirAsia have been less than cordial for the past three years, when the carrier’s vocal group CEO Fernandes made a series of complaints on the RM4.5 billion terminal’s building process.
While other airlines migrated to the airport on May 2 (the opening date of klia2), AirAsia only went in a week later due to concerns on the depressions on the apron and parking bays of the airport. It was widely believed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak had personally persuaded AirAsia to transfer operations.
MAHB had repeatedly claimed that the total sediment location was 23,900 sq m or 3% of the 700,000 sq m of klia2’s apron area.
A report by the Public Accounts Committee on klia2, which was tabled in November last year, revealed that MAHB had ignored the recommendation of the KLIA masterplan that any airport expansion works should be done at the north side of the international airport site, where the soil is stable.
But, the company proceeded to construct klia2 on the west side, where the master plan had warned of swampy soil and would require massive rehabilitative works.
This contributed to the ponding issues — pooling of water on the runway, bumpy taxiways and sinking parking bays — arou nd klia2 although soil treatment works had been done during construction.
klia2 was operational on May 2, 2014, but only after its opening date was postponed five times and the cost had ballooned from RM2 billion to RM4.5 billion.
The airport was initially targeted to open in September 2011. AirAsia records an average of 550 flights daily or 90% of the airline movements at the airport.
Original Source: themalaysianreserve.com