SEPANG, May 9 (Bernama) -- The curtain came down early Friday on the operations at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) with the departure of the last flight from the facility that has given way to the KL International Airport 2 (klia2) which opened for budget carriers on May 2.
The operations at the LCCT ceased after eight years with the departure of AirAsia X Flight D7 170 to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at 2.35 am. The last AirAsia flight out of the LCCT was at 10.30 pm Thursday. Flight AK63 left for Kolkata, India.
The new terminal klia2 was opened as the LCCT was unable to handle the budget carrier passenger traffic that had reached 22 million people per year, way beyond its 15 million people capacity per annum. AirAsia started operating out of klia2 with its first flight into the new facility arriving from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, at 3.50 pm.
The klia2 terminal, built at a cost of RM4 billion, can handle up to 45 million passengers annually, and AirAsia is expected to contribute about 80 per cent of the traffic. Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd had said that the LCCT would be turned into an air cargo terminal.
The LCCT, which was opened by the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on March 23, 2006, had the capacity initially to handle 10 million passengers annually. The facility was expanded in 2009 to handle 15 million passengers.
Besides airlines of the AirAsia group, including AirAsia, AirAsia X, Indonesia AirAsia, Thai AirAsia and AirAsia Zest, three other airlines used the LCCT, namely Tiger Air, Lion Air and Cebu Pacific Air.
AirAsia Bhd CEO Aireen Omar, who spoke to reporters at the LCCT last night, talked of nostalgia. "The last night for us ... is a very sad feeling in the sense that the LCCT had been so kind to us," she said.
Aireen said AirAsia had a lot of wonderful memories at the LCCT. "Many good memories here with a lot of good launches, new routes and a lot of international connectivity created," she said. "We made the LCCT a very well-known low cost carrier airport hub in this region and I think it is very sad feeling for us here tonight."
Asked whether AirAsia planned to hire more employees after the move to klia2 since the new airport is thrice the size of the LCCT in terms of capacity, Aireen said the company would improve its processes without increasing the manpower.
"We want to make sure productivity continues to increase. Therefore, I expect them (the employees) to be multitasking and smarter to maximise their efficiency," she said. She said this was for better investment for the future and for the growth of the business.