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Friday, March 13, 2009

New RM2b LCCT to be ready by Q3 2011

The newly proposed Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) to be built by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd is expected to start construction by the middle of this year and completed by the third quarter of 2011.

The airport, which will cost RM2 billion, is expected to be fully operational after that and would be able to cater to 30 million passengers per annum (mppa), with the potential to expand to 45 mppa, MAHB managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad said today.

He said the full cost of the project, of which its construction would be done via open tender, would be borne by MAHB via loans.

"We will be funding it via loans as we have no debt right now. We have received letters of offer (for loans)," he told reporters at a briefing in Petaling Jaya.

The current LCCT would be converted into a cargo terminal, he added.

He said the cost of the LCCT included a 150,000 sq m new terminal building located 1.5 km west of the main terminal, 70 bays of aircraft parking, a proposed third runway which will be situated only 1.5 km from the second runway, and full parallel taxiways for quick turnaround between both runways.

Bashir said the airport operator was in talks with AirAsia Bhd about the project and added that the low-cost airline was pleased with the progress.

"AirAsia will enjoy greater operational efficiency with the second and proposed third runway just 1.5 km apart. The proposed new runway is also big enough for a B747 to land," he said.

He added that they were also in talks with Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd to extend the connection to the new proposed LCCT, although it would not be included in the total cost of the project.

Asked on why MAHB's cost was bigger than the one proposed earlier for the Labu LCCT, Bashir said this LCCT was bigger and has taken into account passengers comfort in the long-term.

If needed, an adjacent parcel of land to the proposed site could be used for further expansion and could cater for another 25 million passengers.

He added that the soft ground on which the new terminal was to be built was also not a cause for concern as both the existing runways and Bunga Raya Complex were also located on soft ground.

Basir also denied that the issue of Labu LCCT had prompted MAHB to speed up the progress of this new LCCT.

"It took us 16 months to study this and the deadline for it was last December. We did it (study) professionally," he said.

On another note, Bashir said MAH had also proposed to the government the 50 per cent rebate on landing charges as announced in the recent Second Stimulus Package.

He said the rebate, applicable to all airlines, would be of help as the airline industry was going through a difficult time.

"However, this won't affect our bottomline as we are working with the government on a revenue sharing basis for the landing charges," he said.

MAHB makes about RM180-200 million annually from landing charges.

Asked if the airport operator would be reducing other costs such as airport tax since the proposed terminal was for low-cost business, Bashir said aeronautical charges (such as landing and parking fees and tax) would be decided by the government.

He also anticipated that all airports operated by MAHB would have zero per cent growth this year due to the current economic slowdown that has affected passenger movement generally.

However, Bashir expects MAHB to remain profitable following other businesses such as retail.

By Bernama

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