KL airport to undergo 'total revamp' to stem drop in rankings

PETALING JAYA • Work on a total revamp of passenger facilities at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) will begin this year to stem its rapid drop in international rankings, says the overseeing body's top man.

The managing director of airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, said this was necessary to make the country's biggest airport efficient again.

KLIA was ranked 34th last year compared with 24th in 2016 in the survey by Skytrax, a British-based consultancy.

Singapore's Changi Airport took the top spot for both years.

A check on the MAHB and Skytrax websites showed that KLIA's ranking had been steadily declining over the years. It was at fourth position in 2008.

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

Mr Badlisham said the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which was commissioned to do a study on passenger congestion at KLIA, was due to submit its report this month.

Among others, the study looked at automation as one way to ease congestion at KLIA's passenger check-in, security clearance and immigration/customs checkpoints.

Adding more boarding gates and introducing remote parking for aircraft, with passengers moved to terminals in buses, were also part of the study.

Mr Badlisham estimated that the work to upgrade the country's main airport would take two years.

"We are already aware of a few things we can do, so it is not like we are only waiting for the recommendations.

"But we would like the full report to be ready," he told The Star on Sunday.

"This is not just about improving efficiency... a total revamp is being planned," he said.

Mr Badlisham said a survey that MAHB tracked closely was the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) annual report by Airports Council International, an industry body with 1,751 airports from 174 countries representing more than 95 per cent of global airport traffic.

The ASQ ranking measured airport service quality based on 33 indices, using data collected each month.

It compared like-sized airports, with KLIA placed in the biggest category of airports that handle more than 40 million passengers a year.

KLIA is ranked in the ASQ ranking alongside airports such as Thailand's Suvarnabhumi, Singapore's Changi and South Korea's Incheon.

Mr Badlisham said KLIA was ranked 12th in the latest ASQ survey, down from 11th in 2016, with Incheon in first place.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2018, with the headline 'KL airport to undergo 'total revamp' to stem drop in rankings'. Print Edition | Subscribe