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Politic-Economic-Society-Tech

Malaysia waives fees for new flights
Thailand sees little impact from plan to build KL traffic

Reuters and Post reporters

Malaysia said yesterday that it would waive landing and parking fees for five years on new flights to Kuala Lumpur to turn its showpiece airport into a major hub for Southeast Asia.

The move is seen as helping the ultra-modern but under-utilised Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) battle established hubs such as Singapore's Changi and Bangkok's Don Muang.

The Bernama news agency said the 100% discount, valid for five years, would also apply to new flights by carriers already operating at KLIA, located about 60 kilometres from the city centre.

The new concession superseded the existing 50% discount on landing and parking fees for new and existing carriers adding more flights into KLIA, Transport Minister Ling Liong Sik said.

Bernama quoted Mr Ling as saying that Malaysia Airports Holdings' annual revenue of 87.71 million ringgit from parking and landing charges would not be affected by the incentive. He did not elaborate.

Malaysia Airports Holdings runs the country's airports.

Mr Ling said the waivers would apply to carriers having a passenger load of at least 25% per flight.

He said several carriers such as Australia's Qantas and Cathay Pacific had indicated interest in adding or introducing service to Kuala Lumpur.

Bancha Patanaporn, deputy governor for the Airports Authority of Thailand (AAT), reacted to the report from Malaysia with scepticism, saying he heard the suggestions before.

However, he said that waiving aircraft landing and parking fees was not a major factor for an airline in deciding whether to use an airport, since the fees represented only 2-3% of the total operating cost of a flight.

``What really matters for an airline is whether there is enough (passenger and cargo) demand for operating to any particular point,'' he said.

Compared with Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, the landing fees at Thai airports including Don Muang were cheaper, at about about 40,000 baht for an average-sized, wide-body aircraft, he said.

Aircraft parking fees at Thai airports were also cheaper than in the two other countries.

Nevertheless, the AAT board last week approved a plan to halve the aircraft landing fees at three airports _ Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Hat Yai _ to lure more international and local flights to those provinces to promote tourism.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, with a capacity of 25 million passengers a year, had 14.6 million passengers in 2001. Airport officials said the number could grow to 18 million this year.

There are 59 airlines operating out of Changi, which handled 28.1 million passengers last year.

Landing fees at KLIA are considerably lower than those at Changi, at 4,000 ringgit (US$1,052) for a Boeing 747 com pared with S$3,400 (US$1,882.9) charged by the Singapore airport.

Last month, the Malaysian government scrapped plans to sell a 30% stake in Malaysia Airports to the Dutch airport group Schiphol International.

Malaysia, in its efforts to lure airlines to KLIA, recently convinced Egypt Air to shift its operations from Singapore's Changi Airport. The Egyptian flag carrier's move to KLIA is expected to take place in July.

The regional Chinese carrier Xiamen started flying into KLIA last week, making it the 43rd carrier operating out of the airport.

Dubai-based Emirates this month added three flights to KLIA, taking its weekly total to seven.
 

source: http://www.bangkokpost.com,04.05.2002


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