Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) insists that low-cost carrier AirAsia must shift to the controversial low-cost terminal KL International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) when it is completed next year.

Utusan Malaysia today quotes MAHB managing director Bashir Ahamd as saying any refusal to move to the new airport does not arise as the terminal was built for AirAsia, on top of accommodating increase of passengers.

NONE"When the terminal is completed, (it) must move. The present low-cost terminal will be closed once KLIA 2 is opened," Bashir is quoted as saying.

In an interview with Business Times last month, new AirAsia chief executive officer for Malaysia Aireen Omar (left) said the no-frills carrier had a "back-up plan" should it decide not to move to KLIA 2 if it failed to meet the airline's requirements.

Aireen had said that AirAsia had hubs at Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Senai as well as a virtual hub in Changi, Singapore.

Two days after the interview was published, AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes, who has since moved his office to Indonesia to oversee the carrier's regional expansion, lamented at the slow pace on work on KLIA 2 and the excessive cost overruns.

Fernandes had said when KLIA2 was first proposed, MAHB said it would cost RM2 billion, a figure that was later revised to RM2.6 billion and later to RM4 billion, with talk now that the total cost would be high as RM5 billion.

"That makes no sense - the low-cost terminal will now cost much more than KLIA. Yes, I asked for a new terminal but one that has simple facilities.

air asia pc labu low cost carrier terminal lcct 080109 tony fernandes"These cost overruns are matched by delays in the completion date from the original 'up and running' date of September 2011 to the first, and later, the second quarter of 2012.

"Well, here we are and construction is only half-done. We have been told the terminal will only be operational by the first quarter of next year at the earliest, or possibly early 2014. But I wouldn't hold my breath," Fernandes (right) had said.

However, MAHB's Bashir told Utusan Malaysia that KLIA 2 would be operational by April next year and that MAHB would no longer entertain any request for changes to the airport design to prevent further delays.

Aside from AirAsia, he said, the other airlines that would operate out of KLIA2 are Cebu Pacific Air, Mandala Airlines, Tiger Airways and Airphil Express. Negotiations with Jetstar and Lion Air were still going on.

Bashir also denied in the report that the cost of the KLIA 2 would balloon beyond the estimated cost of RM3.6 billion to RM3.9 billion. - Malaysiakini, 11/8/2012, AirAsia must shift to KLIA2, insists MAHB