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KLIA: The White Elephant Lumbers On

Sat Apr 21, 2001 4:59 am

Friday, April 20 6:38 PM SGT

Malaysia To Give Free Airport Rts To Woo Foreign Carriers

KUALA LUMPUR (AP)--Malaysia will offer foreign airlines free landing and parking rights for new or additional flights to lure more business to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which has so far failed to take off as a regional transport hub.
Transport Minister Ling Liong Sik said Friday that the move was part of an aggressive marketing strategy to bring more foreign airlines and passengers to Malaysia.
The benefits will be extended only to passengers flights with a minimum 25 percent loading, Ling told a news conference, according to the national news agency Bernama.
"This is a major decision to encourage more airlines to come here and bring more people to Malaysia," Ling said.
Opened in 1998 about one hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur, the 9 billion ringgit ($1=MYR3.8) airport has struggled to establish itself as a hub against Singapore to the south and Bangkok to the north.
The airport currently serves 41 international airlines, but over the past two years services have been cut or suspended by four carriers: All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Qantas and Lufthansa.
The airlines generally said that services and charges weren't a problem, but they were unable to maintain passenger levels to keep their routes profitable and needed to consolidate and cut losses.
Ling said that landing and parking charges are partly based on the size of aircraft and that lowered charges are normal in initial operations to lighten the burdens of the airlines.
The program will begin May 1. Ling said there was no fixed timeframe.
The airport was ranked sixth by the International Air Transport Association for its services last year, compared to 14th in 1999.
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