PETALING JAYA: After an absence of two decades, Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia is looking forward to flying out from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (LTSAAS) in Subang soon.
The Capital A CEO confirmed today that AirAsia will apply to operate a certain number of flights from LTSAAS, or more commonly known as Subang Airport.
This follows the recent announcement by transport minister Loke Siew Fook approving the movement of single aisle jet aircraft from LTSAAS.
“You can 100% guarantee that we will be there and I think it is a visionary move,” he told reporters after the launch of AirAsia’s “Ask Bo” virtual assistant in Sepang today.
In 2002, AirAsia, together with Malaysia Airlines, was ordered to shift their operations from LTSAAS to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, to increase the connectivity and growth of KLIA, the country’s premier airport.
Fernandes said the initiative taken by the government to transform LTSAAS into a regional aviation hub through the proposed Subang Airport Regeneration Plan (SARP) has been “a very bold, brave and right decision” for the aviation industry in Malaysia.
On Monday, Loke announced that the SARP proposed by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has been approved by the Cabinet after careful consideration.
Among the main changes proposed in the plan are the reintroduction of scheduled passenger flights and belly cargo flights by using narrow-body jets up to the size of A320/B737 or equivalent aircraft.
LTSAAS is expected to be transformed into a regional aviation hub with a maximum capacity of eight million annual passengers, in addition to generating thousands of high-value job opportunities for Malaysians.
The Subang Airport connection
Fernandes is no stranger to Subang Airport, his memories dating back to his time flying to England when he was a boarding school student at Epsom College.
“LTSAAS is a very emotional airport for me and I always have said that it is a waste of an asset, in which a big city like Kuala Lumpur should have an airport like this,” he said today.
Noting the superior convenience and cost effectiveness of Subang compared to KLIA, Fernandes was gutted when the airport concession was given instead to Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd in 2007.
Meanwhile, he also hoped for China to remove the need for Covid-19 RT-PCR test soon after the recent reopening of its borders, which would be the next boost for the group as the demand over the last three days had been very strong.
“The other push factor from China is the logistics, including normal cargo, e-commerce and low-cost courier,” he said.
According to international news reports, AirAsia plans to take the lease of 15 additional aircraft to meet travel demand from China after its reopening.