Kuala Lumpur gearing up for more airlines
Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur
A second terminal will be built at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to accommodate rapidly growing passenger traffic, as at least four more foreign airlines including two Indian carriers get set to fly to Malaysia, an official said.
The existing terminal is nearing its capacity of 25 million passengers annually and the new terminal will be able to cater to an additional 25 million passengers, Bashir Ahmad, the managing director of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd., told reporters late on Monday.
Malaysia Airports Holdings is a government linked company that manages and operates all airports in the country.
Construction of the new terminal will begin next year and will be completed by 2008 at a cost of 4 billion ringgit (US$1.05 billion), Bashir said.
The design of the new terminal will be similar to the present one with its tent-shaped white pavilions, and will be able to accommodate the new superjumbo airbus A380 aircraft, Bashir said.
The ultramodern KLIA, which opened in 1998 at a cost of 10 billion ringgit, was supposed to have reached its 25 million passenger capacity by last year, but the target couldn't be reached because of the fall in tourism due to SARS and bird flu health scares.
But last year, KLIA reported more than 20 percent growth in arrivals to 21.1 million. The International Air Transport Association forecast passenger traffic in KLIA to grow by at least 7 percent this year.
The second terminal will be in addition to the 100 million ringgit low-cost carrier terminal that will be built at the KLIA to cater to the boom in no-frills airline industries in the region, led by the successful AirAsia of Malaysia.
The new projects are part of the strong growth in airport business in Asia.
Singapore is adding a third terminal at its Changi airport while Thailand is scheduled to inaugurate next year a new international airport outside Bangkok to replace its aging Don Muang airport.
Bashir said that at least four and up to seven more foreign airlines are expected to start flying to KLIA this year, including Jet Airways and Sahara Airways from India, which have confirmed they will begin fights from the southern Indian cities of Madras from April.
Bashir did not name the other two airlines.
"In fact Jet Airways is now inquiring about setting up their office in KLIA," he said.
A total of 46 airlines are currently operating in KLIA, including China's Shenzhen Airline that started flying into KLIA early this year.
"We are a threat to everyone (other airports in the region). We have a huge potential for growth in both the domestic and outgoing market. Tourism is coming in the country," he said.