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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Work on new LCCT to start in mid-year

Construction of the new RM2bil low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) is expected to commence by mid-year for completion in the third quarter of 2011, says builder and operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).

MAHB managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad says the project will be funded by the company via loans.

Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad briefing the media on the new LCCT-KLIA.

“We have no debts so it is no problem to raise funds,” he said at a media briefing in Subang yesterday.

To this end, Bashir says the company already has the offer letters.

Contracts to build the new terminal will be tendered out over the next few months, he adds.

The new LCCT, to be built near the KL International Airport (KLIA), will be able to handle up to 30 million passengers when operational, with the potential for 45 million passengers per annum.

Low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd’s proposal to build a new LCCT costing RM1.6bil in Labu, Negri Sembilan, was rejected by the Government last month.

Bashir says the current LCCT will be converted into a cargo terminal.

As for possible lower charges at the new LCCT, Bashir says: “All aeronautical charges will be decided by the Government.

“Our charges are not related to the cost of the new terminal. They (charges) do not go up automatically when we build new terminals.”

To a question on why the cost is higher than the originally proposed RM1.6bil by AirAsia and Sime Darby, Bashir says this is because the terminal will be “bigger” and with more facilities.

“The design of the terminal, to be located 1.5km away from the main KLIA terminal, will have to be worked out but the construction of the new runway can start immediately.

“We are talking to the airlines and finalising the design,” he says, adding that the terminal can be used by both low-cost and full service carriers.

“AirAsia has seen the location of the new LCCT and is happy with it. It has made it clear that it doesn’t want to use aerobridges. We will take its views into consideration but will also be talking to other airlines which may want to use aerobridges. We will see how we can provide that.”

To a question, Bashir says MAHB is in discussions with Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd to extend its current connection to the new LCCT.

On the 50% rebate in landing charges as announced in the mini budget earlier this week, Bashir says it will not affect the company’s bottomline. “We are working with the Government on a revenue-sharing basis for the landing charges,” he says.

MAHB currently makes RM180mil to RM200mil a year from landing charges.

Responding to another question, Bashir says MAHB had in August 2007 appointed the joint-venture company of Netherlands Airport Consultants BV and KLIA Consultancy Services for the preparation of a National Airport Masterplan for the country, which included the development of a LCCT.

“It took us 16 months to study this (LCCT plan). We did it professionally,” he adds.

Separately, he says he anticipates “0% growth” this year for its airports, owing to the economic slowdown which will affect passenger movement. “We do expect to remain profitable.”

Other than KLIA and other domestic and international airports in Malaysia, MAHB also owns stakes in several foreign airports, including India’s Delhi International Airport. It also has other businesses, such as retail.

By The Star (by Yvonne Tan)

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