Passengers pay as Malaysia airport builder cuts costs

Malaysian airport officials are refusing to answer questions about safety following the announcement that no aerobridges will be provided at Kuala Lumpur International Airport's new second terminal.

The massive $800 million terminal will be exclusively for low-cost carriers, with a handling capacity of 30 million passengers a year, blatantly ignoring the need for aerobridges to be installed as a safety requirement.

Passengers will have to walk anything from 400 metres to more than a kilometre depending on where the aircraft is parked. It is an international civil aviation safety requirement that the airline concerned transfers passengers to and from the aircraft by coach or bus, as walking across the tarmac is strictly prohibited.

This is to avoid passengers getting involved in accidents with ground support vehicles, getting wet in the rain or being put at risk of lightning strikes during thunderstorms.

AirAsia and its subsidiary long-haul carrier AirAsia X will be the main users of KLIA2 which will be operational in the second quarter of 2012.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) managing director Bashir Ahmad said aerobridges will not be installed because AirAsia had said it would not use them. The airline's business model requires a short turnaround time in order to increase aircraft utilisation. “This is an exemption from MAHB’s policy of requiring airlines to use aerobridges,” Bashir noted.

MAHB officials would not comment when asked whether this was a compromise on passenger safety and convenience. Malaysian media reports say MAHB will save $35 million by providing only ramps.

Norpaya Jamaluddin, public relations officer at the Ministry of Transport in Putrajaya, declined to respond to eight questions pertaining to safety at KLIA2 and the LCCT.

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