Malaysia plans to double airport capacity for 2 billion fliers in Asia

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd is looking to raise Kuala Lumpur International Airport's capacity to 150 million in the next 10 to 20 years.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd is looking to raise Kuala Lumpur International Airport's capacity to 150 million in the next 10 to 20 years.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS)- Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd plans to double Kuala Lumpur International Airport's capacity as it seeks a bigger slice of the 2.1 billion more passengers expected in Asia Pacific in the next two decades.

The company is looking to raise the capacity to 150 million, from the current 75 million, in the next 10 to 20 years, Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin, chief financial officer of Malaysia Airports, said in an interview on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (April 24).

The main terminal could reach full capacity in the next two years, he said."We have started studies on the optimisation and expansion," Raja Azmi said, declining to comment on how much the plan will cost.

"The outcome will determine the configuration that we will have to take within a year or two."

Kuala Lumpur joins neighbouring cities Bangkok and Singapore in looking to expand airport capacity as routes in Asia Pacific are set to become among the world's busiest, according to the International Air Transport Association. Malaysia's tourism board is targeting foreign visitor arrivals of 36 million by 2020, a 39 per cent increase from last year.

Malaysia Airports sees passenger traffic across the airports it manages rising 6.3 per cent this year, as it banks on easier visa approvals for visitors from China and India.

The company is also looking to Hajj pilgrimages for more traffic and is cooperating with Malaysia Airlines, which provides chartered flights for the annual gathering, Raja Azmi said.

Improving services is a focus for the company, whose ranking in the Airport Service Quality survey fell to 12th in 2017, from ninth the previous year, he said. In 2018, Malaysia Airports is seeking to be back among the top 10.

As part of its five-year plan to diversify earnings, the company set up an international unit that will focus on managing or buying stakes in airfields in the Middle East and Asia. It currently operates airports in Turkey and Qatar.