Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sabah's Low Cost Carrier Terminal ready year end

Kota Kinabalu: The main contractor for the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Package Two upgrading project has promised to complete the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) building in Tanjung Aru within six months.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the turnkey contractor, Global Upline Sdn Bhd's adviser Tan Sri Ting Pek Khing, assured him that work would be completed by the end of this year. It would be located at the current second terminal site.

However, the whole project under Package Two costing about RM720 million that started on Monday is expected to be completed within 36 months.

The upgrading of the airport would also see the establishment of a stand-alone Air Traffic Control Tower, the Department of Civil Aviation building and extension of the runway from 2,988 metres to 3,780 metres.

The new LCC terminal would also have six parking bays for aircraft, he said, adding that the extension of the runway would also allow unrestricted B747-400 aircraft landing at the KKIA.

Speaking to reporters after the ground-breaking ceremony officiated by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin on behalf of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the site in Tanjung Aru, Monday, Chan said work on the new LCCT has to be fast in view of the growth and demand for travel by low cost carriers.

On reclamation near the soon-to-be-demolished Sri Tanjung squatter site, he said the project would adhere to strict Environmental Impact Assessment requirements.

The new LCC terminal is expected to accommodate up to three million passengers a year with a built-up space of 12,300 sq m compared to the existing terminal which handles about 500,000 passengers per annum.

Once completed, it would position Sabah as an important LCC hub not only in the country but in the region, especially with new routes to be explored by Air Asia like southern China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Chan also said the Federal Government acknowledged the need to upgrade KKIA as it was the second busiest airport in the country after Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang.

As for the main terminal building of the KKIA, which houses the national carrier Malaysia Airlines he said it would be expanded to accommodate nine million passengers annually compared to its current capacity of 2.5 million passengers.

Parking bays would be also expanded to take in more aircraft. Among others, the upgraded KKIA would incorporate additional aerobridges for the main terminal from the current five to 17, while the latest baggage screening system used in the KLIA would also be installed.

Musa, in his speech read by Yahya, said the number of both international and domestic visitor arrivals increased by 18.7 per cent per annum from 774,475 in 2000 to 1.829 million last year.

"Obviously the potential for tourism is still great as between January and March this year, Sabah recorded 173,037 international and 247,256 domestic arrivals," he said.

As for the aircraft movements, the total number of landings and takeoffs at KKIA rose by 4.9 per cent from 41,355 in 2000 to 52,609 in 2005, he said.

AirAsia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Datuk Tony Fernandez, in welcoming the new development, said the present terminal was too crowded.

Apart from introducing more direct international flights from here, AirAsia also planned to operate domestic flights such as KK-Tawau and KK-Miri among others.

Source: Daily Express

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