PETALING JAYA: Better connectivity between the two terminals at Kuala Lumpur international airport will be a catalyst towards drawing more tourists to Malaysia, according to airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad.
The company’s chief executive, Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin, said MAHB’s involvement in tourism was more than just the company doing its national duty. “We see it as an integral part of our operations,” he said. “We see it as being central to what we do.”
He said Kuala Lumpur airport (KUL in the international air transport code) was losing out to Changi Airport in Singapore which has three runways and four main terminals, and more robust connectivity between the terminals.
MAHB’s plans for better airside transfers and interlining were critical as it would improve connectivity between the main terminal KLIA and the budget-airline terminal klia2, and offer more seamless connections between full-service carriers to low-cost carriers and vice-versa.
“So if you are flying into Malaysia on a full-service carrier and then taking a connecting flight on a low-cost carrier to a place like Sandakan, for example, you don’t have to check-out, go to klia2 and check-in with your luggage all over again.
“With the airside transfers and interlining, your baggage will be automatically transferred between the airlines and you can move around more easily.”
He said the company’s success in ensuring connectivity to all 39 airports in the country, including those which are unprofitable and in rural areas was hinged on the profitability of its key airports, particularly international gateways.
MAHB subsidises operations of 31 airports around the country with the revenue garnered from eight airports including Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi and airports in Sabah and Sarawak.
“If we have a more integrated Kuala Lumpur airport, more airlines will be attracted to fly to KUL and passengers will have more choices of inbound and outbound connecting flights.
“There is real potential for exponential growth of the aviation sector, as well as the tourism sector,” he said.
Raja Azmi said MAHB was in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia, with both parties contributing RM10 million for tourism promotion through companies involved in the business, and it has also allocated RM5 million for a campaign to promote Langkawi, while drawing more airlines to fly to the island.
He said the benefits of more integrated terminal operations was not only obvious in international airports but also in regional centres such as Kota Kinabalu.
He said passenger traffic at Kota Kinabalu had increased after AirAsia moved to Terminal 1 in December 2015. Seven more airlines then followed, taking advantage of the enhanced connectivity.