Monday, November 27, 2006

Low-Cost Terminal Draws Flak

Low-cost terminal draws flak
Photos by SAM THAM

A traveller glancing through flight information written on a whiteboard at the LCCT arrival hall.A sense of deja vu prevails at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT-KLIA) in Sepang. Scenes at the LCCT are only too familiar for those who have visited the old Terminal 3 in Subang. There is room for improvement but things should get moving in view of Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

Most passengers met at the RM108mil terminal, catering to budget airlines like AirAsia, Thai AirAsia and PT Indonesia AirAsia, felt “low-cost” was not a reason for compromise.

A good example is the whiteboard scribbled with flight information at the arrival lounge, in place of an electronic display terminal. Parking bays are insufficient, too, within the uncovered parking area.

Nearly five million passengers have passed through the LCCT since March and the figure is expected to reach six million by year-end. Yet seats at the departure lounge are limited, forcing passengers to utilise trolleys and floor bars as seats.

Frequent traveller Rudolf Steiger said he was shooed away for sitting in a restaurant and not ordering anything while waiting for his flight to Vietnam. He had no alternative because the lounge was full.

Malaysian Kong Saw Kuen who has caught a few flights from the LCCT said the international departure hall was small and only had one washroom and a cafe.

F&B outlets include McDonald’s, Asian Kitchen and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. A plate of nasi lemak or noodles with a drink costs RM9 but eating like this on a daily basis takes its toll on staff like P. Gunaseelan.

“Sometimes, I go for the packed meals sold to staff but the service isn’t regular. To save some money, I am now bringing meals from home,” said the sales clerk, who is also forced to park elsewhere daily.

French traveller Sandrine Marty, who was on her way to Sabah, said KLIA was impressive but the LCCT was hot and stuffy.

“Commuting between the two is difficult when you’re lugging several bags. I was quoted RM38 for a budget taxi but the Lonely Planet guide prompted me to opt for the bus service,” she shared.

A 15-minute ride on board the Aerobus plying between KLIA and the LCCT costs RM1.50 one-way. Skybus, operated by AirAsia, offers rides to KL Sentral for RM9 one-way at 30-minute intervals.

Service is regular but the condition of some buses leaves much to be desired. There were also complaints that the buses stop at Sentral at the lower ground floor, which is a long way from the taxi stand to the city.

Motorists driving to the LCCT cover a 20km-distance from the KLIA but buses and taxis take a shorter route through the Bunga Raya Complex. If everything goes well, a 13.4km railway track will be built to cut travelling time.

The LCCT taxi service is divided into budget, premier and family, with fares to Kuala Lumpur at RM56.60, RM92.40 and RM138 each. One traveller said a tout at KLIA wanted RM170 for the ride to the LCCT!

Some might argue that the LCCT has only been given a few months to prove itself. It garnered the CAPA Low-Cost Airport of the Year at the CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence 2006.
By virtue of its association with KLIA, the nation’s pride, the LCCT should also deliver.

Source : STAR
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