Saturday, January 17, 2009

LABU AIRPORT


As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on January 17, 2009 3:48 PM

1. Air Asia has done well to explain the justification for the so-called KLIA-East in Labu.

2. Not having the facilities and personnel I can only give my very unprofessional view on the justification:

a) Passenger Capacity

I must congratulate Air Asia on its very remarkable success. By 2014 it will handle 26 million passengers. Present terminal at KLIA is handling about 25 million passengers.

KLIA is planned to handle 125 million passengers. It has 25,000 acres of land to build another terminal and four satellites. It can even duplicate these terminals and satellites. But Air Asia wants low-cost terminals with no aero-bridge, no luxury interiors. This is not a problem for KLIA.

There is enough space in the 25,000 acres of reserved land to build the low-cost terminal to accommodate the 60 million Air Asia passengers in the distant future. MAHB (Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad) can do this. (Incidentally Putrajaya has only 10,000 acres of land). However, by 2014 the total number of Air Asia passengers would only be 27 million. Accommodating this number should be no big deal for MAHB.

b) Runway capacity

By 2014 Air Asia will have 77 aircrafts. LCCT capacity will still be for 33 aircrafts. Does Air Asia expect all its aircrafts to be on the ground in LCCT all the time?

Usually some would be in the air and many would be at other airports. Expanding the parking area would not be too difficult. There would still be enough land at KLIA.

As for the runways Times Online reports that Heathrow will now build its third runway to be completed in 2020. Presently Heathrow has only two runways and it still handles almost 70 million passengers.

As stated above, KLIA can build another three runways to handle 125 million passengers. If passengers and aircrafts increase to more than presently handled by Heathrow, a third runway can quickly be built.

If KLIA LCCT is not connected by rail and bus, the thing to do is to provide all these. Extension to the Express Rail Link line can be built. Terrain is no problem. We have sliced through higher hills to build roads.

If the waiting time for taxis has increased due to the huge airport layout (I don't understand this), whatever solution for this problem is proposed for Labu, the same solution can also be applied to KLIA LCCT.

c) Number of Gates

Since Air Asia will not be using the main terminal why should the small number of gates there be of concern to Air Asia?

If Air Asia will be putting more than 55 Gates at Labu to cater for its large number of aircrafts and movements, why cannot LCCT at KLIA be expanded to have maybe 100 Gates to avoid any shortages? Will Labu be provided with 100 Gates? If so, when? Again, why be bothered about KLIA Terminal being equipped with aero-bridges etc when Air Asia does not want to use it?

3. The comparison with Dubai and Jackson Atlanta International Airport is misleading.

4. The picture shows four runways (no indication which airport). Multiple runways is common but they are operated by one airport with one control tower. The picture and the layout does not suggest separate towers for different runways. You cannot have multiple runways close to each other but controlled by different towers.

5. Perhaps Air Asia can show documents that separations between different airport runways of 2km are permissible. Is there any example of two major airports operating separately but located 2km from each other? I don't know. Please enlighten me.

6. The problem prompting the idea of a new airport is the allegedly high charges by MAHB for the use of LCCT by Air Asia. MAHB is owned by Khazanah and it is believed Khazanah has a stake in Air Asia. Both are therefore GLCs. The Government can tell them to negotiate fair charges. Or is it the Government that wants this airport at Labu for reasons other than need?

7. Or is it that Sime Darby now wants to go into airport business?