Transport expert welcomes boost to KLIA-klia2 link

Upgrades to the KUL connectivity are expected to shorten minimum connecting time and ease passenger transfer between KLIA and klia2.

PETALING JAYA: A transport studies scholar says the planned airside transfers and interlining facilities between KLIA and klia2 will improve connectivity between the two terminals, in a boost for local and international travellers as well as airline operators.

Roger Teoh, a PhD postgraduate student at the Centre for Transport Studies, Imperial College, London, said airside transfers would allow passengers to transfer between KLIA and klia2 without the need to exit and re-enter customs and passport controls.

The interlining facilities, meanwhile, would benefit those who travel on itineraries with multiple flights from different airlines.

“For example, baggage can be automatically transferred between airlines at the transiting airport, and passengers could benefit from cheaper fares,” he said.

He was commenting on plans by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to introduce airside transfers and interlining for KUL, the collective air industry name for KLIA and klia2.

With these services, he said, KUL could benefit from more transfer and transit activities from both local and international travellers. He said KUL would be able to offer more services from airlines serving different routes and destinations.

Teoh said this would translate to better connectivity and time-saving for passengers, while airline operators could boost efficiency by consolidating operations.

Roger Teoh.

He gave the example of Singapore’s Changi Airport which has four terminals and can offer a direct connection to over 400 cities in 100 countries worldwide.

By comparison, he said, KLIA presently offers only around 140 destinations.

MAHB said it is actively working on these plans as the lack of seamless connectivity between KLIA and klia2 is hindering KUL from realising its full potential as a global hub.

The airport operator’s group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said the company is looking to exploit all competitive advantages to draw more passengers and airlines.

“Our direction for KUL is very customer-centric. Our ultimate aim is to find ways to maximise the span of airline connectivity and increase routes by linking the two terminals together,” he told FMT in a recent interview.

KLIA currently serves 68 airlines with more than 1,000 connecting routes as a result of interlining services within the Oneworld group through 268 airlines.

“klia2, on the other hand, has nine partner airlines serving more than 140 destinations. The immediate increase in connectivity that we can provide to all airlines and travellers when we allow for airside transfer and interlining between the two terminals can be exponential.”

Raja Azmi said airside transfers and interlining could also ensure the optimisation of the airports, as there is still room for growth at klia2 in terms of passenger capacity while KLIA is “bursting at the seams”.

“If we integrate both terminals, we will be able to operate at optimum levels by attracting more airlines to klia2 with the increased connectivity options.”

Raja Azmi said full integration of KUL would also see a drop in minimum connecting time (MCT) between the two terminals. The MCT currently stands at three hours, as travellers must exit immigration and get their luggage at one terminal before checking in again at the other terminal.

“At Kota Kinabalu International Airport, we consolidated all airline operations within a single terminal back in 2015 and the MCT there is 60 minutes – a significant improvement from three hours when operations were segregated between Terminal 1 and 2.

“So it is in the nation’s interest to encourage full connectivity between all airlines at KUL,” he said.