SEPANG: JUNE 28. This is the date that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has chosen for the launch of KLIA2, the new low-cost airport, to coincide with the date the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was launched in 1998.
Najib said he was pleased with the progress of KLIA2, adding that it would be completed as scheduled by May.
“But, I have expressed my desire that we should not rush to open KLIA2. Instead, we should solve the teething problems that would arise with the new terminal. Only when it is really ready would KLIA2 be fully operational.
“But, as a target, I have decided that the launch of KLIA2 should coincide with the opening date of KLIA — June 28.
“Hopefully, I can and shall (NOT will) open KLIA 2 on that date in my present capacity (as the prime minister),” he said at the launch of AirAsia’s 1Malaysia aircraft livery to commemorate the start of the 1Malaysia Integration Programme with the budget airline.
Present were AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, his deputy, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad.
The 1Malaysia livery is painted on an Airbus A320 aircraft, which can carry 180 guests.
About 600 litres, or 121 cans of paint, were used by 20 workers to prepare the aircraft livery over 12 days.
The aircraft will be plying routes served by AirAsia, covering more than 70 destinations across 20 countries.
They will bring the 1Malaysia brand and experience to a bigger community across the globe.
On promoting integration, Najib said he had always championed the value of using the 1Malaysia concept.
“I see the 1Malaysia concept as a meaningful concept that can boost the nation to higher levels. Whatever we do, we must be inclusive. To achieve the nation’s full potential, we must move as one.”
Najib said AirAsia was a living example of the success of the 1Malaysia concept.
“If we work collectively, we can achieve much, much more and AirAsia is proof of that.”
Najib said the government had always wanted companies to be regional and global champions.
He was also upbeat over AirAsia’s plan to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who had never flown before, by giving them free flights for a limited time.
The free flights are for those involved in the AirAsia 1Malaysia Integration programme. The full details will only be announced today.
Najib believed this move by the low-cost carrier would allow Malay-sians to be connected closely and bring to life the vision of 1Malaysia.
“This will give those from the various ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak a chance to fly to Kuala Lumpur.
“At the same time, it will bring Sabah and Sarawak closer to the peninsula.”
Najib later took a flight to Kuantan on board the new aircraft, along with a group of community leaders from various ethnic and sub-ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak.
Earlier, Fernandes paid tribute to Najib’s enormous part in AirAsia’s success.
“The reduction of airport tax during your tenure was a crucial catalyst in promoting air travel and turning AirAsia into a global airline. From this, both AirAsia and Malaysia have benefited substantially, allowing more Malaysians to fly.”
He described Najib as Malaysia’s best salesman who had put so much effort into getting the flight rights to Beijing and Shanghai, benefiting the Chinese community tremendously.
AirAsia has 10,000-strong employees with 126 aircraft serving almost 80 destinations and 172 routes.
“Fifty per cent of these routes were never serviced before. We have made travel dreams come true for more than 180 million ‘guests’.
“Before AirAsia, only six per cent of Malaysians used to fly.”