Saturday, January 31, 2009

1. A commentator MoMan who confesses to being a great admirer of mine and is involved in the Labu airport project has tried to explain why Labu airport is necessary.

2. However his reasons for wanting the airport at Labu is mainly because the KLIA is not efficient. Following are its shortcomings;

a. Because of the purchase of the wrong radar KLIA is handling only 35 aircrafts on its two runways when it should be handling 70. This causes delays morning, lunchtime and midnight

b. KLIA’s sophisticated conveyor belt is not functioning well because sorting the bags is being done by immigrants who cannot read Malay or English

c. Weak security. Airport operator not investing and managing its people well.

d. Airport operator of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal wastes money building extensions at ridiculously escalated price.

3. Other points raised to justify Labu are;

a. Air Asia needs a permanent home fast.

b. By 2013 Air Asia will need to carry 25 million passengers.

c. KLIA built on swampy land – costly to build.

d. London has five airports. New York has three airports. So has Rome, Paris, Tokyo, Melbourne and Nice.

e. Resuscitate Keretapi Tanah Melayu from the living dead. KTM can make RM62 million a year carrying passengers from and to Labu airport.

4. Now if I may give my opinion; a-d are about inefficiency of KLIA. You don’t solve inefficiency by building a new airport. I suspect immigrant labour would still be used at Labu.

5. Air Asia needs a permanent home fast. KLIA can provide that. Klia has 25,000 acres, bigger than Putrajaya. There should be enough space for the 25 million Air Asia passengers and more.

6. KLIA handles 25 million passengers now with two runways and 35 aircraft movements per hour.

7. Labu will have one runway and will need to handle 70 movements per hour in order to handle 25 million passengers. But according to you Gatwick with one runway and great efficiency (busiest runway in the world) handle only 40.6 movements per hour. Will Labu beat Gatwick and handle 70 movements per hour with one runway?

8. All those hubs have as many as five airports. But are they eight kilometres from each other? Heathrow is 40km from Gatwick, Stanstead, Croydon and Luton. All the airports are at least 40km from each other. Labu would be seven kilometres from KLIA. Even Subang is more than eight kilometres from KLIA.

9. It is the same with all the other airports serving the cities named.

10. KTM may not be making money but it is not dead yet if we go by the number of passengers using the commuter. KTM and the Express Rail Link (ERL) will have to invest a substantial sum to carry 6 million more passengers. They may not want to. In which case you will have to rely on road transport or subsidise their development. You have already said you will not do so.

11. Air Asia does not serve most of the long haul routes originating or terminating in KLIA. There will have to be double checking and double handling if Air Asia passengers want to use the KLIA for their travels to or from foreign countries. You need to have dedicated roads or trains between Labu and KLIA.

12. The biggest argument against Labu is its nearness to KLIA. With two control towers uncoordinated control over movements and stacking before landing, with 70 x 2 movements per hour, the possibility of crashes is very real.

13. The government appears to be in control of both Air Asia and KLIA. Why cannot there be negotiations over handling charges instead of spending RM1.6 billion on a new airport?
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