KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia The 20-year old Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) needs urgent upgrading as congestion has caused a decline in its service quality and efficiency, says former Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat.

He said while KLIA had steadily achieved its target of being a regional hub with the ever-increasing volume of air traffic, it was time to relook at some of the areas of management efficiency, such as the longer time of immigration clearance, luggage retrieval and even security checks.

These are some of the common problems brought up by its users. All these may sound petty, but at the end of the day, these would be the contributing factors that link to the overall airport service quality that we should pay attention to, he told Bernama.

Ong said it was also timely to relook at the current handling capacity vis-a-vis the design capacity, as well as KLIA’s service quality survey index compared to other airports in the region.

I could still remember when I served as Transport Minister about 10 years ago, we were then quite particular about the airport service quality, but surprisingly, this has been kept silent for quite a long while and our airport service quality index has taken a dip over the past few years. It is time for us to buck up and take immediate actions to arrest further decadence of our service, he added.

In the face of stiff competition from neighbouring countries in the air service industry, Ong pointed to the urgency of upgrading KLIA’s facilities and equipment before it is too late.

He also suggested that Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), as the country’s airport operator, undertake a more distinct branding of the various terminals under its jurisdiction for greater efficiency in the allocation of airline slots as well as the schedule slots.

Schedule slots would have a heavy bearing on whether or not an airport terminal is considered under-utilised or over-capacity and this should be given a comprehensive look before MAHB reached out to woo more players at its key terminals like KLIA and KLIA2.

Everyone would expect KLIA to play a prominent role of being a full service hub accommodating our home grown as well as foreign full service airlines. But KLIA2, on the other hand, was purposely built for budget airlines to a large extent and for this, MAHB has to do a more distinct branding.

What it means is that if you want to earmark specifically KLIA the full service terminal, then we better do in such a way that it could accommodate not just the existing flight frequencies of the existing airlines, but also at the same time accommodate the potential rise in flight frequencies in the near future, he said.

Another factor that should be looked into is the space utilisation occupied by the respective airlines and Ong said he had time and time again came across cases where people had been complaining of certain zones or certain counters being overcrowded.

Perhaps one of the parameters that we should look into is the level of passenger comfort which in the past we used to calculate in terms of square metres or square feet per passenger and this is quite crucial in the airport design. We need to relook at the counter slots whether or not it is conducive to promoting level of comfort to the passengers.

Ong also praised Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) for making great efforts to upgrade its service at KLIA especially its business class counters.

On MAHB’s part, it would be wise for it to allocate a dedicated area for the national carrier’s business class counters instead of allowing it to be boarded with some other airlines that are not of the same category, he said.

MAHB managing director Badlisham Ghazali said in January that work on a total revamp of facilities at KLIA would begin this year to stem its rapid drop in international ranking.

KLIA was ranked 34th for 2017 compared with 24th in 2016 in the survey by Skytrax, a British-based consultancy, with Singapore’s Changi notching up top spot for both years.

However, KLIA ranked 7th in the world for best airport staff service and tops for airport immigration service.

Source: NAM News Network

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