September 10, 2008

MAHB Plans Better Perks for Airlines

By Hamisah Hamid

MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) plans to announce better incentives for airlines, managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad says.

He said the existing incentive packages include free landing and parking charges, as well as marketing support.

"We will enhance that programme, but we have yet to announce it," he said during a media briefing on the 14th World Route Development Forum (Routes KL 2008) in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Bashir also did not say if MAHB will unveil the new incentives during Routes KL next month. Routes is the aviation industry's top annual gathering for airport operators and carriers.

MAHB will be meeting representatives from 230 airlines during Routes KL, which will be held between October 12 and 14.

A total of 379 airlines and 549 airports have confirmed participation at this year's Routes.

Routes chairman Mike Howarth said airlines are exploring ways on how airports can help them maintain destinations amid costlier fuel.

He said the previous Routes events focused on route planning and new air services opportunities, but this year's event is expected to centre on the role of airports in route development and maintenance process.

However, Howarth said there will also be airlines coming to Routes KL looking to pick up recently dropped or about-to-be- dropped cities. "Some airports will be looking for replacement airlines, possibly offering financial incentives," he said in a statement.

During the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, MAHB gave a 50 per cent discount on landing fees to airlines at the KL International Airport for a year.

MAHB, which initially expected up to five new airlines to operate from Malaysia this year, is now contented with just three.

"We may not achieve the targeted four to five airlines, due mainly to the fuel costs," Bashir said.

However, he is optimistic that there will be new airlines next year. Talks between airports and carriers could take up to five years, he added.

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