MAHB to double KLIA capacity for 2 billion fliers in Asia

KLIA has a current capacity of 75 million, which MAHB aims to increase to 150 million in the next 10 to 20 years. (Bloomberg pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd plans to double the capacity of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as it seeks a bigger slice of the 2.1 billion more passengers expected in Asia Pacific in the next two decades.

The company is looking to raise the capacity to 150 million, from the current 75 million, in the next 10 to 20 years, Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin, chief financial officer of Malaysia Airports, said in an interview on Tuesday. The main terminal could reach full capacity in the next two years, he said.

“We have started studies on the optimisation and expansion,” Raja Azmi said, declining to comment on how much the plan will cost. “The outcome will determine the configuration that we will have to take within a year or two.”

Kuala Lumpur joins neighbouring cities Bangkok and Singapore in looking to expand airport capacity as routes in Asia Pacific are set to become among the world’s busiest, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Malaysia’s tourism board is targeting foreign visitor arrivals of 36 million by 2020, a 39% increase from last year.

Malaysia Airports sees passenger traffic across the airports it manages rising 6.3% this year as it banks on easier visa approvals for visitors from China and India.

Top 10

The company is also looking to haj pilgrimages for more traffic and is cooperating with Malaysia Airlines, which provides chartered flights for the annual gathering, Raja Azmi said.

Improving services is a focus for the company, whose ranking in the Airport Service Quality survey fell to 12th in 2017, from ninth the previous year, he said. In 2018, Malaysia Airports is seeking to be back among the top 10.

As part of its five-year plan to diversify earnings, the company set up an international unit that will focus on managing or buying stakes in airfields in the Middle East and Asia. It currently operates airports in Turkey and Qatar.