KOTA KINABALU: The Transport Ministry will study AirAsia’s proposal to move its operations back to Terminal 2 of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).
Its minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said talks will be held with the Sabah state government before a final decision is made.
“Terminal 2 is now operating, but only for general services aviation or private jets only. Any plans to return to Terminal 2 will be discussed and the technical aspects studied,” he said at the Ask-The-Minister Session in the Dewan Rakyat in Kuala Lumpur Thursday.
He was answering a question from Ahmad Hassan (PH-Papar) on AirAsia’s proposal to relocate its operations back to Terminal 2 of KKIA.
On AirAsia’s plans to begin flights from Kota Kinabalu to India, China, Japan, Korea and Australia, Loke said the government supported any effort by the low-cost airline company to begin flights from any Kota Kinabalu to a foreign destination.
Last week, AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said his low cost airline wants to move back to Terminal 2 of KKIA after being forced out three years ago, in the hope that it would spur not only tourism but open Sabah to more international destinations.
Offering to bring in AirAsia X to Sabah, he said the company was back in talks with the relevant agencies, including the Sabah government, to restart Terminal 2 as a dedicated low-cost terminal.
Fernandes had met up with Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal at his office here, and he said that the Sabah Chief Minister seemed warm to the proposal after he was briefed on the airline’s wish for a dedicated low-cost terminal that would help arrivals through greater connectivity.
Fernandes said AirAsia was prepared to refurbish the Terminal 2 complex for the purpose, a move that would double tourist arrivals to five million a year.
“I was told there is a future plan to relocate the airport. I believe this will take some years, so we can still use Terminal 2 until then,” he said.
AirAsia was forced out of Terminal 2 by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad and began to operate at KKIA Terminal One on Dec 1, 2015. The move, said Fernandes, saw a flat growth for the airline over the last two years.
“Terminal 2 was just abandoned after we left. Even our AirAsia signboard is still there,” he said, adding that it could take less than six months to get the operations back up.
Fernandes said he also spoke to Shafie about the airline’s intention to bring AirAsia X here to connect directly with north Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea apart from Asean cities.
He also said the company intended to open up direct flights out of Tawau and Sandakan while also planning to start a flying school in the state.