Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Of KLIA, LCCT and the KLIA2

Like all Malaysians, my thoughts had gone out to the families of those that had perished in the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that went missing on the morning of 8 Mar 2014. Although I had not said anything at all previously, the fate of the flight had always been in my mind. I know how difficult it is to have lost a loved one. Especially for calamities like this, the grieving period will be long and painful, and full of unanswered questions.

Days after MH370 went missing, my wife and I were winging our way to Hong Kong on board another of Malaysia Airlines' flights. Throughout our journey to Hong Kong and back, MH370 weighed a lot on our minds. I was sure too that the missing flight weighed heavily on the minds of the aircraft's crew as well. But nobody dared to broach the subject with them. It was almost a taboo subject while in the air.

As long as the aircraft is still missing, the search should go on until some concrete evidence is found. Until then, there will never be closure for the crew and passengers' families. As much as I dislike the Chinese for their loudness and boorishness, I do sympathise with their pain. But we also need to share the same sympathy with the crew's families too. They may only be doing their jobs but in the last few moments of the flight going down, the crew were just as human as the passengers too. I think this is one aspect of MH370 that we should never forget. Anyway, this is all that I want to say about the missing aircraft.

On a slightly different matter, my wife was telling me that she has lost confidence in using Firefly when travelling to Kuala Lumpur. "There's always a delay," she huffed to me last night. Of course, her "always" referred to her two most recent flights from the Subang Airport to Penang on the seventh and the 28th of this month. I told her that the delays could be coincidental but no, she refused to accept my lame explanation.

She could accept the occasional delay in a flight. But to have her flights delayed twice consecutively, although they were a fortnight apart, she felt that they were way too much of a coincidence. Last Monday, her 8.10p.m. flight was delayed to 8.40p.m. and then delay to 8.55p.m. She actually marched right up to the Firefly counter at the Subang Airport and demanded a reason for the delay.

"That's a bit too much," she told me on arriving home all tired. "Next time, please book me on Malaysia Airlines." But the KLIA is more inconvenient for you, I reminded her. "Never mind," she said, "anything but a delay."

And on yet another slightly different matter, I've been reading today that the KLIA2 terminal - that's where the budget airlines will be operating from - will be open for business from the second of May. Malaysia-based Malindo Air, the Philippines' Cebu Pacific Air, Singapore's Tiger Airways and Indonesia's Lion Air and Mandala Airlines will begin initial operations from this budget terminal on Friday, while AirAsia and AirAsia X will shift their operations there only on the ninth of May.

Personally, I think that is a wise move for AirAsia to delay flying in and out of KLIA2 until a few days later. There is bound to be teething problems once a new terminal opens, and I do foresee flight delays to be quite the norm until the airlines and the control tower sought them out. Mind you, I wouldn't say that AirAsia's flights won't be affected by delays once the shift-over happens but a few days grace may mean a world of a difference to flight schedules.

I still remember when the KLIA first opened on 27 Jun 1998, my wife and I - and my aunt - were flying out to Hong Kong for a short. I wanted them to savour the experience of flying out from a new airport at KLIA and the thrill of landing at Hong Kong's old Kai Tak airport which was to close down within the week. The Malaysia Airlines flight left the KLIA in the morning, delayed by only about an hour or so, but while we were in Hong Kong, we heard that all other flights were subjected to horrendous delays for the rest of the day. Luckily, we were not affected when we flew back a few days later. Everything had been sorted out by then.

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