PENANG: Low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd is looking at Penang as a potential hub for a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT).
It is learnt that group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes made a case to the Penang government to build the terminal and the authorities are keen on his proposal.
Sources said the proposed LCCT in Penang would be independent from the budget air terminal that AirAsia wants to build in Labu, Negri Sembilan.
The proposed Penang terminal has been priced at RM120 million, excluding the cost of land, said sources.
At a presentation made on Tuesday to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, elected representatives, industrialists along with selected government and quasi-government agencies in Penang, Fernandes did not indicate how much land was needed for the LCCT.
However, he proposed two sites which are aligned with the Penang International Airport at Bayan Lepas. The land, however, does not belong to the state government.
During the briefing at Lim’s office at Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak in George Town, Fernandes stressed the need for AirAsia to find sufficient parking bays at night for his aircraft and the fact that there would be a problem soon when the airline took delivery of additional planes.
“By offering point-to-point flights from various hubs, AirAsia will be able to solve its parking issue while Penang will benefit via the coverage of direct flights serviced by AirAsia,” said a source.
Apart from Malaysia Airlines, which offers direct international flights from Penang to selected destinations, other carriers using the airport include AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways International, Lion Air, Singapore Airlines, China Southern Airlines, China Airlines, Firefly, Kartika Airlines and Sriwijaya Air.
AirAsia began flying into Penang in 2002 and offers direct flights to cities in Thailand and Indonesia.
Fernandes declined to comment on the matter, while Lim could not be reached.
In 2007, the Penang government gave conditional approval to LC Airfields Sdn Bhd to set up a low-cost carrier terminal on the island.
Business Times had reported that the proposed LCCT would likely be sited north of the passenger terminal building in Bayan Lepas, and that AirAsia had asked for rights to be the licensed operator of the new terminal in order to keep costs low.
In reality, the airport can accommodate only slightly more than three million passengers a year because space meant for transit passengers has been leased to duty-free shops.
SOURCE: NST Online – AirAsia lobbies Penang for LCCT