(Penang, Wednesday): The Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik said last week that his Ministry will study strategies to market the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as a regional hub for airline transportation.
He said his Ministry is studying other world-class airports for a plan to promote the RM9 billion infrastructure in Sepang to international carriers.
He believed that since KLIA was already equipped with the best infrastructure, it would not be difficult to market the airport.
Although the KLIA has been opened for six months, the KLIA is not gaining international acclaim for its airport management and maintenance. How can Liong Sik succeed in turning KLIA into a regional hub when he cannot resolve the rat problem at the KLIA, which is a serious reflection on the standard of airport management and maintenance.
Last Sunday, some segments of the walkalators at KLIA did not function, while the airconditioning for the departure lounge of a Penang-bound flight failed, causing the passengers to wait in the stuffy room.
Since the opening of KLIA, Malaysians have been cutting down on domestic flights because of the inconvenience of the new international airport. MAS, for instance, would get more passenger load if it routes its flights through Subang rather than Sepang.
Before June, the Penang sector was one of the most lucrative domestic routes of MAS, contributing to a vibrant tourist industry in the state but now, it must be one of the losing propositions of MAS, pulling down the Penang tourist industry and economy with it.
Before KLIA was opened, it was impossible to get seats on MAS flights to Kuala Lumpur from Penang in the early morning flights after weekends or holiday breaks unless reservations were made well in advance.
Now, there is no problem in getting seats on these MAS flights, as they are often under-capacity, even as bad as having 15 to 20 per cent capacity for MAS flights to KLIA.
The MAS flights to Kuala Lumpur through Subang International Airport are always full, but there are only two daily flights from Penang to Subang and vice versa.
Before the shift from Subang to KLIA, there were as many as 24 flights
a day from Penang to KL, but there are now only 16 flights a day
on this route - 14 to KLIA and two to Subang.
The two Penang-based flights a day to Subang are not adequate and there should be at least six Penang-KL-Penang flights a day for the convenience of travellers and to save Penang tourism and economy.
Liong Sik will make more sense to address these problems before talkiing about making KLIA the regional hub for commercial aviation.