Lee (center) and Bangik (second left) after a discussion with representatives from MAB and AirAsia.

KUCHING: AirAsia Berhad’s management has been urged to use aerobridges in all Sarawak airports unless the aerobridges are fully occupied.

Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said that at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2), AirAsia uses aerobridges for embarkation and disembarkation of passengers.

“Similarly, when AirAsia flies to other countries, they also use aerobridges, but why is it that they do not do so for domestic flights, particularly in Sarawak?

“During the Chinese New Year period, there are more people flying, especially those who travel with family members,” said Lee in a press conference held at his office at Bangunan Baitulmakmur, after meeting officials from AirAsia Berhad and Malaysia Airport Sdn Bhd (MAB) on 22 Jan.

Lee hopes that AirAsia would use aerobridges as soon as possible for all its flights into Sarawak.

Lee (center) and Bangik (second left) after a discussion with representatives from MAB and AirAsia.

He also stressed that not using aerobridges caused inconvenience to passengers, especially during wet weather when the aircraft staircases may become slippery.

“People who are at risk are the elderly, the sick, people with disabilities and families who are travelling with young kids. It can give rise to safety problems for young kids as they may run around the airplane parking apron while going to the plane, especially the naughty ones as some passengers commented,” he said.

Lee also mentioned that he often flew using AirAsia, both domestic and international travels. After being appointed Transport Minister recently, a number of passengers went up to him and asked him to appeal for the use of aerobridges by all AirAsia flights around the state.

“There are passengers who told me that they don’t mind if AirAsia charges RM1 extra in their air tickets for using the aerobridge,” he said.

According to Lee, currently there are about 150 flight movements per day at Kuching International Airport (KIA), 60 percent of which were AirAsia’s.

Lee also added that according to Malaysia Airport Berhad (MAB) senior manager, the fees for using the aerobridges at the four airports in Sarawak cost RM85 per usage.

“Based on MAB’s statistics, Kuching International Airport (KIA) alone recorded 5.6 million passengers in 2018, and 5.9 million last year, which exceeded the current capacity of the airport which is 5.3 million passengers,” Lee said.

The number of passengers at Miri Airport recorded in 2018 was 2.3 million and 2.435 million last year, which also exceeded the airport’s capacity of two million passengers, with daily average of 110 flight movements in Miri.

“The ministry will meet with MAB on the need for expansion of the airport’s terminal buildings in Kuching and Miri,” he said.

Also present during the meeting were permanent secretary to the Ministry of Transport, Buckland Bangik; Assistant Secretary to the Transport Ministry Zulkarnain Rosli; senior airport manager of Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd, Jun Iskandar Murshidi; and AirAsia’s government relations officer, Juanita Suraya.