AirAsia CEO wants low-cost carrier terminals in PH

MANILAAirAsia Philippines chief executive officer (CEO) Dexter Comendador said the firm has been asking the government to build low-cost carrier terminals.

"We understand that we need to have a showcase. Right now that's MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority). You want to make MIAA very beautiful, that's fine. It's a gateway. But the other airports can have simple terminals," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an exclusive interview over the weekend.

He mentioned that building a simple terminal for low-cost carriers can help fasten the government's "Build, Build Build" program.

"The airport (can be) simple enough. We don't need chandeliers, etc. Because the passengers pay for it, through terminal fees, for example," he explained.

He added that a simple terminal would enable passengers to pass through up to the gate within 20 minutes.

"If you tell a passenger to check-in an hour before his or her flight, that 20 minutes should be all that he or she will need to check in. That leaves him or her 40 minutes linger time. That's why the style of airports now are like malls," Comendador continued.

He said the government could earn from the ancillary, such as Duty-Free outlets and spas, since passengers can have more time to go around and buy things. "We have proven that in Kuala Lumpur," he remarked.

"Malaysia has realized that. That's why AirAsia is known there. We're trying to put that philosophy here. Because here in the Philippines, low-cost carriers account for 60-65 percent of the (air) traffic. Might as well consider what we're doing," he said.

Low-cost carrier passengers dominate the airline market, Comendador noted.

"The aviation market in the Asia Pacific Region is 54-64 percent carried by low-cost carriers. It's a significant number that we cannot set aside. So you have to put into consideration how low-cost carriers operate," he commented.

On the air side, Comendador said low-cost carriers just want a simple terminal, where they can have a fast turnaround time.

"The plane will only earn when it flies. We (AirAsia) have the fastest turnaround time in Asia. We can turnaround a plane in 25 minutes," he said.

Comendador said AirAsia planes deplane in 10 minutes while refueling, have 5 minutes for security and cleaning, and 10 minutes boarding.

"So the ramp should be able to accommodate a 25-minute turnaround time," he remarked.

"We just need it simple. We don't need the tubes. That's an additional expense for us," Comendador continued.

He said AirAsia relies on the two stairs when boarding its passengers. This style works faster, since using tubes will also mean just one queue for the passengers.

"(Also), if you use the tube, the airline would need to buy a contractor, tow-bar, and would need to hire a driver, a mechanic, etc.," he explained. "If we do away with that, we will have lower expenses. That means I can pass on the savings to passengers as low fares. That's the reason why we can lower our fares." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency