Kuala Lumpur Airport Drags Feet on Congestion Relief

 - October 28, 2013, 11:20 AM
Malaysia Airlines, among others, must contend with persistent congestion at KLIA due to the failure of authorities to install computer software that would allow for dual-runway operations.

Air traffic controllers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) cannot carry out simultaneous dual-runway operations due to lack of so-called non-transgression-zone software, resulting in congestion in Malaysian airspace and a choke point for takeoff at KLIA. The airport’s pair of 13,000-foot-long runways can accommodate 32 arrivals and 36 departures per hour.

Airlines have lodged complaints about the excess fuel their airplanes burn while caught in departure queues, at times waiting for as long as 25 to 30 minutes before ATC can clear them for takeoff.

Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia rank as the two biggest users of KLIA. Among the fastest growing airports in Asia in terms of passenger volume, it serves as one of Asia’s biggest hubs. Nevertheless, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) hasn’t seen fit to install the equipment it needs to alleviate the problem.

AIN’s attempts to solicit comment from the DCA in Putrajaya proved unsuccessful. Designed to accommodate a maximum of 40 million passengers per year, KLIA handled 39.9 million passengers in 2012 and expects that total to grow by 13 to 14 percent this year.

Construction and testing of a third runway, also 13,000 feet long, was completed recently.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad senior general manager of operations services Azmi Murad told AIN that during normal operations Runway 3 will serve a new low-cost carrier terminal now under construction. A temporary terminal currently dedicated to low-fare carriers does not offer air bridges, transfer facilities or a rail link with the main terminal.

“Runway 3 will also be a backup for Runway 1 and Runway 2,” said Azmi. Scheduled to open on May 2 next year, the new terminal will increase the airport’s passenger capacity by 45 million, he added.