Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sabah Tourism suggests underpass to connect KK airport to LCC terminal

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Board (STB), an agency under the State Tourism, Culture and the Environment Ministry, has suggested an underpass to be constructed beneath the Kota Kinabalu International Airport runway to connect the main terminal and the low-cost carrier (LCC) terminal.

“We are raising the solution seriously to the authorities now,” STB chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmood said here yesterday.

“The main airport (expansion) is due to be ready in 2009 there is some time to look into it,” he said during a dialogue session after a briefing by Malaysia Airlines on the rationalisation exercise of its domestic trunk routes effective next month.

The briefing was delivered by the airline’s senior general manager of transition management, Dr Amin Khan.

Without the underpass, passengers would have to go all the way from the arrival hall in the main terminal, and travel by taxi for about two kilometres to the LCC terminal in Tg Aru because there was no transportation system within the airport connecting the two terminals currently, Tengku Zainal Adlin said.

It would also be inconvenient for the passengers, especially international travellers, because they have to carry their luggages and rush to catch their domestic connecting flights, he said.

One of the travel operators who attended the briefing raised the issue that no interlining between the two airlines after the rationalisation of the domestic routes would cause problems in ticket bookings.

Interlining means a passenger could book two connecting airlines in a single ticket and provided with a fuss-free check-in and baggage transfer, which was an issue that has not been ironed out during the negotiations between Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia to rationalise the domestic air routes, Amin said.

Interlining is one of the conditions put up by the government for Air Asia in the rationalisation process and as at two weeks ago the low budget carrier has yet to implement interlining between the two airlines companies, he said.

Therefore, he added, travel operators might have to retrain their staff to book flights with Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines instead of one airline due to the absence of an interlining system between the two airlines.

On the rationalisation exercise, Amin said he was optimistic that it would open more opportunities for the national carrier to promote its presence internationally and to increase international passenger flow into this country.

With the rationalisation, Malaysia Airlines will compete with Air Asia in the 22 domestic trunk routes, defined as having high numbers of business class travellers and interconnecting passengers, beginning August 1.

The rural airline service which is currently provided by Malaysia Airlines through its propeller and turbo-props airplanes in Sabah and Sarawak will cease operation on the same day and be taken over by Fly Asian Xpress (FAX).

“Despite the leaner network of 22 domestic routes, we will continue to expand out of Sabah to international destinations,” Amin said.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times

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