Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Shortage of Airport Limousines
Have ticket, but no ride
By CHARLES FERNANDEZ
AFTER a long and tiring flight, most air travellers will not have the patience to endure a long wait for a taxi to take them to their final destinations.
However, this is exactly what is happening at the KL International Airport (KLIA) and the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) for those unlucky enough not to have someone waiting for them at the airport.
There seems to be a shortage of airport limousines and this is bad news, considering KLIA is the main gateway into the country for millions of tourists, plus the fact that we will be ushering in Visit Malaysia Year 2007 in less than a month’s time.
The management of both airports must not forget that first impressions mean a lot and unpleasant experiences like long waits for the elusive airport limousines are difficult to forget.
Malaysians who have gone through this nightmare dread to think what kind of first impression the dearth of taxis at the two airports will give to foreign visitors. And KLIA is reputedly one of the best airports in the world, too.
Although there are taxi services provided by other private companies, there is a standing order that only KLIA limousines are authorised to pick up passengers from the airport.
The acute shortage of airport limousines has caused tempers to flare as passengers get angry and feel short-changed by the situation.
Who is taking stock of the situation?
Last Tuesday, when American Carl Hathaway arrived at KLIA after a 30-hour flight from Florida, all he wanted to do was get to his hotel as early as a possible for a well-deserved rest.
However, he was forced to wait for a taxi outside the airport even though he had chosen to hire an airport limousine to take him to his destination.
So why was he trying to flag down a taxi outside the airport? The answer was simply - there was no airport limousine to be found.
Another frequent traveller, Sachin Shukla from India, like Hathaway, also chose not to depend on the airport limousines as unusually long queues had formed for the limos.
“The experience I had at the KLIA limo counter during one of my trips here was one of the worst I ever had in my many business trips here. There is a lot of delay in getting a cab and it is very shameful for a world-class airport,” said Shukla.
Shukla is wiser these days as he opts for the KLIA Express and from there he jumps into a taxi to get to his place at The Mall in Jalan Putra. The whole trip costs half the amount and less travelling time.
Malaysian Dr Mohd Ariffin Mohd Ali, a medical director with Columbia Asia Medical Centre in Seremban, travels a lot both on business and holiday trips.
He said the shortage of airport limousines would reflect badly on the national carrier (MAS) as well.
Hathaway ... tried to flag down a taxi outside KLIA to avoid the long wait for an airport limo.“I know the problem is beyond MAS but both the national carrier and the operators of KLIA limousines can work out a winning formula to cut down on the waiting time for cabs,” said Dr Ariffin.
One passenger in an e-mail message to The Star said after standing for 25 minutes in a queue that stretched beyond the exit gate, he was told at the limo counter that he had only one option – to take the RM150 van service (after discount) to Damansara Utama.
He was told that the budget and premier service which cost RM60 and RM90 respectively for one-way trip was not available.
“And when I came out I saw six premier limos available. They quickly refunded my money after I protested and gave me a premier service ticket and asked me to keep quiet about it. This is not the way to promote their van service,” said the passenger.
A family of four, in another e-mail, complained about the bad experience they had at LCCT after an enjoyable vacation in Langkawi. The family had bought a ticket for a budget taxi for RM52.50 to travel to SS3 Petaling Jaya.
Although the four could get into the taxi with their entire luggage, a person managing the queue told them that they could not ride the budget taxi as budget taxis were meant for a maximum of three passengers. They were then directed to use the limo taxi and told the pay the difference there and then.
Malaysia Airport Berhad senior general manager (operations) Datuk Azmi Mahmud said there were currently 700 airport limousines and another 200 would be added to the fleet by the end of the month.
He hoped the additional vehicles, would be able to cater to the anticipated increase in tourist arrivals next year.
Source : STAR
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