KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 – AirAsia Bhd remains with its decision to not move to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Terminal 1, despite a ministerial order to do so, says Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
He said moving to Terminal 1 from Terminal 2 would create heavy congestion at the airport while the airport tax, which would be increased by RM35, could kill Sabah’s tourism industry.
“We know what we’re doing in the airline business and we made it very clear to the Ministry of Transport (MoT) that we are not going to move to Terminal 1 because it doesn’t make any sense.
“So we will stay in KKIA Terminal 2,” he told reporters after announcing the company’s new global ambassador here Wednesday.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said on Tuesday all airline companies, including AirAsia, must move to KKIA Terminal 1 in the near future to accommodate more passengers, both domestic and international.
He said the airlines had been given a directive to move to Terminal 1 on Aug 1.
Fernandes said should the airport impose a higher tax, the local airline industry could be dampened given the tremendous competition in the region.
“We have done a fantastic job, support us.
“We haven’t had our airport upgraded in Terminal 2, it’s badly maintained and the air-conditioner doesn’t work. We’re almost being forced out,” he said.
He said local airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) should work together with the airline to create jobs, citing the example of airport operators and transport ministers in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.
“We don’t want to fight. The ringgit is falling down.
“Wouldn’t it make more sense for MAHB and AirAsia to sit down and see how we can grow tourism, create more jobs, make the number of tourists to Sabah increase, and make KLIA a hub like Dubai?” he said.
The weakening ringgit is actually helping the low-cost carrier to attract more foreign tourists to Malaysia, he pointed out.
“Sales are very strong actually, local outbound seems very strong at the moment,” he added.- BERNAMA