KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) sees a prospect of integrating Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) with its second terminal klia2 via a 1.5km link and airlines interlining.
However, building the link as well as other infrastructure to integrate both terminals would be costly for the airport operator to bear alone, MAHB group chief executive officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said.
“It will be costly to build the connectivity. For now, there are no physical plans to connect both airports. But interlining is an opportunity,” Raja Azmi told the New Straits Times.
According to industry experts, providing the ultimate convenience to passengers through integration and interlining may cost billions of ringgit for the development of connecting infrastructure between terminals such as trains and baggage handling system.
Interlining, meanwhile, requires agreement between airlines as it involves handling passengers when they travel on multiple airlines on the same itinerary.
At the moment, KLIA and klia2 are connected at the landside. Passengers have to go to the other terminal via bus or (ERL) rail service.
Raja Azmi said an alternative for MAHB to integrate both terminals would be via “bussing” like other foreign airports such as London Heathrow Airport.
In the long-term, MAHB was looking at interlining but this required an agreement with the airlines, he added.
“We will spearhead efforts to get the airlines to agree. This is something that MAHB wants to propose moving forward,” he said.
MAHB is currently developing a virtual platform of self-connect inter-terminal transfer for passengers’ baggage at both airports.
The service is expected to be made available by January next year.
Through the system, passengers can use the service to transfer their baggage between terminals without having to go through the Customs before travelling to the next destination.
Raja Azmi said MAHB would monitor the progress of the self-connect activity before consulting the relevant authorities and airlines on proceeding with the proposed interlining plan.
Association of Asia Pacific Airlines director general Andrew Herdman said interlining is an airside transfer that requires government’s approval with immigration at airports as well as airlines.
“We need infrastructure at airports and terminals including runaway capacities and manpower to work for it (interlining), which has a lot of growth ahead,” he said.
Herdman said it is vital for airport operators to build the network and origin-destination traffic, particularly for leisure and business travellers.
“Traditionally, full-service carriers focus more on network economic (medium and long haul routes) and low-cost carriers on the short-haul route (point-to-point).
“If you are in medium-long haul business, there are not many points-to-points routes with constant demand. Hence, it has to have a network feed. It depends on airlines and airports to strategise and work together,” he said.
Meanwhile, Raja Azmi said KLIA was still a competitive destination in the region, backed by lower airport charges as it progresses to become a preferred hub in the future.
“We hope we can capture some of the transfer traffic (international passengers). We want to capture that slice of two billion passengers in the next 20 years in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.
He said an airport should have extensive routes offerings, strong airlines connectivity, ample terminal and runway capacities, optimum service level and minimum connecting time and seamless connectivity to be a preferred hub.
He said MAHB had spent about RM700 million in the last 17 years on airlines incentive programme to attract new airlines to KLIA.
“The incentive includes free parking and landing charges for new airlines operating at KLIA in the first year,” he said, adding that MAHB had been attracting more tourists with the establishment of Joint-International Tourism Development Fund and Langkawi International Tourism Promotional Fund.