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Now for budget airports
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Air India Express will be operating here

Now for budget airports


The chairs are plastic, the facilities are few and some passengers are grumbling but budget airlines are hailing new no-frills terminals in Singapore and Malaysia as a cost-saving success.

In a spirit of not-so-friendly rivalry, the neighbouring nations launched their low-cost terminals last month in a race to completion which saw the doors flung open just a few days apart.

Malaysia's $29.2-million terminal can handle 10-million passengers a year while Singapore's $27.8-million facility has capacity for 2.7-million passengers a year, and up to five million after future expansion.

The two cities lived up to their reputations too, with some initial problems and complaints in Kuala Lumpur while super-slick Singapore appears to have got off to a faultless start.

Malaysia's low-cost terminal, a warehouse-style building located 20 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), was criticised for expensive food and a lack of seating.

There was also dismay that the high-speed train which connects far-flung KLIA with the city does not reach to the new terminal and construction on an extension line is yet to start.

After newspapers last week printed photos of dozens of passengers lying on the tiled floor and using their baggage as pillows, the operator promised to instal 500 more chairs and introduce more food outlets.

"We have some teething issues but other than that everything is great," ebullient AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes said in a recent newspaper interview.

"The reality is that we save lots of money this way. Look at this terminal, it's buzzing people can't get a seat at the restaurants, the buses are full and we have created a whole new sub-economy here," he said.

Low on style, big on savings

Compared to the vaulted, ultra-modern terminals at KLIA, the cavernous low-cost alternative certainly wins no points for style, but most passengers accept the trade-off for cheaper prices.

"It's basic but that's what we're paying for," said Philip Kan, who runs his own aerospace supplies business and stood out from the crowds of families and holidaymakers in his suit and tie.

"It's saved me a lot of money. I travel a lot for my business and it's helped me protect my profit margins," he said, while conceding that a few internet terminals and extra bank branches would be appreciated.

Business was brisk at the terminal's McDonalds outlet but at a nearby cafe a waiter admitted he had fielded many complaints over prices for food and drinks which rival five-star hotels in the capital.

"I think it's expensive too, but I just smile and say that it's the company who sets the price," he shrugged.

Claudia Bazzani (23), a traveller from Italy's Lake Como was one of many who said they would rather forego the frills and take the rock-bottom fares.

"Of course it could be nicer but considering I paid 50 to go to Bangkok I can't complain," she said.

Quicker check-in and lower taxes

Although they each have only one tenant at this stage AirAsia in Kuala Lumpur and Tiger Airways in Singapore, analysts say the facilities are a boost for budget airlines which face a constant battle to shave their costs.

Tiger Airways said its feedback from passengers had been "mainly positive" thanks to shorter check-in times and lower airport taxes.

"For Tiger Airways (the benefits are) lower operating costs and higher levels of operational efficiency because the Budget Terminal is designed specifically to cater to LCC operations," it said.

Passengers at the new terminal, a squat and sparsely-decorated pastel-lemon building situated near Changi Airport's two main terminals, were generally happy although there were a few gripes over sparse decoration and sub-standard toilets.

"It's very cold in here. The money changer inside did not accept credit cards... other than that it's the usual Singapore efficiency," said one British expatriate traveller.





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I hope India does not plan low cost airports! Most of the airports here look low-cost anyway!!



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good one vivek

Light travels faster than sound...thats why people appear bright, until you hear them talk!
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