Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sabah Govt to meet MAB over congestion at Terminal Two Airport

By JENNE LAJIUN

LAHAD DATU: The State Government will be meeting with the management of Malaysia Airports Berhad (operator and manager of Malaysia’s airports) to address the severe congestion at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport’s Terminal Two building as soon as possible.

In giving the assurance, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat, who is also Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, told reporters at a press conference at the ‘Fly Asian Express (FAX) Welcome Flight from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu’ yesterday that they would try to look at ways to expand the check-in and the waiting areas at the building.

“I will arrange for the meeting to be held immediately,” he said when asked how soon the meeting would take place.

He added that it was crucial to resolve the matter as soon as possible as the terminal lacks a comfortable waiting lounge.

“The terminal is congested. Today I had the chance to see how bad the situation is. There were hardly enough seats for everyone or areas where they could wait comfortably,” he said.

He also urged the public to be patient, saying the inconvenience was due to upgrading works to accommodate more than double its current capacity of 450 passengers per hour.

“The Federal Government has given an allocation of RM1.4 billion for the upgrading works…but we realise that all these (works) are also causing inconvenience so I urge the people, both locally and from abroad, to bear with us for a while,” he said, adding the building would probably be ready within a year from now.

In his speech earlier, Kah Kiat also said that the air link to Lahad Datu is important to the district as it is set to become the centre of the economic growth in the state within five years due to its strategic palm oil resources.

He also commended Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) for increasing the number of daily flights from the state capital to the district from four to five.

Kah Kiat urged the airline to consider starting flights from Lahad Datu to Tarakan due to the large number of Indonesian workers at Felda plantations in the district.

“You should look into the possibility as there are thousands of them,” he said.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Tony Fernandez told reporters that the airline was interested in operating flights from the state capital, to several places in China, including Macao and Xiamen.

“We are confident that we would be bringing in more tourists to Kota Kinabalu,” he said.

However, he said, no additional flight to and from Kota Kinabalu is possible due to the congestion at the terminal.

“There is no space for the people at the terminal, the capacity is too small…we need more space,” he said.

He added that he was pleased to hear that Kah Kiat was going to look into resolving the matter.

Also present during the ceremony were Raja Mohd Azmi Raja Razali (FAX Sdn Bhd chief executive officer), Datuk Irene Charuruks (General Manager of Sabah Tourism Board), Iskandar Mirza (Tourism Malaysia Sabah director) and Amat Mohd Yusof (Lahad Datu district officer).

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times

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