The cost of Kuala Lumpur International Airport's dedicated new terminal for low-cost carriers has nearly doubled to $1.2 billion, and will open nearly a year later than planned, the country’s airport operator has revealed.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) said plans for the terminal (klia2) have now been “significantly upgraded with superior facilities” including aerobridges and a fully automated baggage system.
The larger terminal footprint now stands at 257,000sqm – a 71% increase from the original plan of 150,000sqm – with 68 contact stands, making klia2 the world’s largest purpose-built complex for low-cost carriers (LCCs).
Furthermore, the facility will now be able to accommodate 45 million passengers each year, up from the 30 million it previously announced.
However, according to a report in the Associated Press, the greater expense has been criticised by AirAsia, which will be the main user of the terminal.
The airline’s CEO Tony Fernandes told AP that amenities such as aerobridges were a waste of money and would not be used by his airline.
However, MAHB defended its decision to install the airbridges to "assist the sick, elderly and young children", saying the additional cost was negligible at 8 cents per passenger.
Meanwhile, due to the changes, klia2 is now expected to open in April 2013, rather than mid-2012 as previously planned.
AirAsia, the region's largest budget airline by fleet size, has said a bigger terminal is crucial to its survival with passengers expected to reach 30mppa and its fleet to grow to 184 planes by 2013.
The existing Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) can only accommodate 15mppa and has insufficient airplane parking bays.
In 2009, AirAsia proposed to build and operate a $504 million budget airport in a southern state but the government rejected the plan amid concerns it may undermine the country's international airport.
It subsequently unveiled plans for klia2, located just 1.5km west of the main airport.