Monday, December 18, 2017

Is KLIA2 a “low-cost terminal”, a “hybrid airport” or a mere “extension” of the main KLIA terminal?

Yesterday, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) issued a statement in response to my criticisms against the impending Passenger Services Charge (PSC) increase in 2018.

MAHB insisted that “KLIA2 is not a low-cost airport terminal”. It said “together with the government, we had made the strategic decision to build a second permanent terminal for KLIA that will accommodate increased capacity requirements, or in other words, future growth”.

So not only is KLIA2 not a “low-cost terminal”, it also appears that MAHB is now ditching its own much-ridiculed “hybrid airport” moniker.  Deputy Minister of Transport Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi had announced in July 2013 that “KLIA2 will no longer be a low-cost terminal, but Malaysia’s first hybrid airport with upgraded business-class services alongside total international passenger segregation”.  The announcement was made partly to justify the astronomical increase in the cost of the terminal from RM1.7 billion to more than RM4 billion.

Malaysians are rightly confused with the shifting terminologies and inconsistent definitions of what exactly is the purpose and intent of KLIA2.

If you were to download the brochure from MAHB’s own website, “KLIA2 – The Rise of the New Titan”[1], it clearly states

…KLIA2 is positioned to be the biggest terminal for Low Cost Carriers (LCC) in the world, serving as a global benchmark for future terminals of its kind…

With these world-class features, KLIA2 will be the largest purpose built terminal for low-cost travel in the world with a capacity of up to 45 million passengers per annum…

So which is right?  The marketing brochure on MAHB’s website or the latest statement to deflect blame from the massive hike for Passenger Service Charge (PSC) at KLIA2?

However, regardless of whether MAHB wants to call KLIA2 a “hybrid airport” as it did earlier in 2013, or a “second permanent terminal for KLIA” as it did yesterday, the fact remains that KLIA2 has at all times since its approval by the Cabinet, been intended specifically to serve as a new “low cost carrier terminal” to replace the old makeshift LCCT.

The fact of the matter is, MAHB had only decided in 2013 to re-label KLIA2 as a “hybrid airport” in order to justify the massive unbudgeted cost overruns and delays.  Now, MAHB is redefining KLIA2 as merely a “second permanent terminal of KLIA”, implying no differentiated service quality between KLIA and KLIA2, purely to justify the equal PSC to be imposed both terminals.

It is ironical that MAHB claimed that it has already explained the above to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), of which I am a member.  MAHB said in its statement yesterday

We have also explained numerous times to YB Tony Pua along with the other members during the PAC sessions that after numerous engagement sessions with key stakeholders, klia2 development had undergone significant scope increase due to changing requirements by the key stakeholders, including the government agencies and AirAsia.

MAHB seems to have forgotten that the damning PAC Report on MAHB concluded that the excuses given by the top management of MAHB were misleading, untenable and unjustifiable.

The then PAC chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said MAHB was “not being customer-centric” when “MAHB should be building airports for people to use and not determine what people should use”.  The PAC had strongly criticised MAHB’s arrogance for intentionally abstaining from engagement with its key customers like Air Asia when designing and constructing the airport.

The PAC Report had concluded that “Malaysia has lost a golden opportunity to develop the most competitive low-cost carrier hub in the Asia Pacific region.”  Today, Malaysians have to pay for the follies of MAHB with a massive 46% hike in Passenger Service Charges.
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