Airline complains that Kuala Lumpur $1bn terminal “still sinking”

One of the airlines that uses Kuala Lumpur’s international airport has complained that its recently built budget passenger terminal is continuing to sink.

The area around the $1bn building, which was completed in June last year, has been resurfaced, but its stands and taxiways still suffer from cracks, as well as ponding that covers over directional markings painted on the tarmac.

AirAsia, the carrier that is the terminal’s principal client, has complained that the defects may damage planes and pose a safety risk to passengers. Tony Fernandes, its group chief executive, criticised terminal KLIA2 after a plane slipped off its chocks causing an eight-hour delay to a flight.

We should have never moved. I was the right, you should have let the ground settle, fix it, then move– Tony Fernandes, Director of AirAsia

"You name me an airport that you expect this to happen," Fernandes told reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. "If it’s a mistake that has happened, it’s happened. Let’s fix it. Let’s not pretend that it’s not there."

Malaysia Airports has released a statement saying that the terminal, apron and taxiways are safe for operations. It said: "Safety is of utmost priority to us in Malaysia Airports and we adhere to a very stringent regulatory regime by the Department of Civil Aviation."

It also said on Twitter that it is investigating the cause of the plane rollback. It added that "based on procedure, the incident should have been reported immediately by AirAsia", which it was not, and that the bay where the accident occurred is "currently operational as normal".

Image of the plane in question via Tony Fernandes’ twitter account

KLIA2 opened last year and received criticism that the terminal was built on a swamp and that water pools had formed in cracks in its surface.

Fernandes said: "We should have never moved. I was the right, the management of AirAsia was right: you should have let the ground settle, fix it, then move."

Aireen Omar, the chief executive of AirAsia, said: "We can’t afford to have an airport where it is continuously under construction as it obstructs our operations."

Kuala Lumpur International opened in 1998 and is Asia’s fastest growing airport, with a year-on-year increase of 19% between 2012 and 2013.

Image: KLIA2 Air Traffic Control Tower (Crystalswung/Wikimedia Commons)

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