Landing and parking charges will be waived for new passenger services at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) under an incentive programme launched by the Malaysian Government to boost flights to the struggling airport.

The incentives took effect on 1 May and waivers will apply for 12 months. National airports operator Malaysia Airports Holdings says the incentive is available to foreign scheduled passenger or charter airlines operating services to KLIA for the first time or operators adding frequencies or operating from new destinations.

Airlines must achieve a minimum average passenger load factor of 25% per flight to remain eligible for the incentives.

KLIA opened in mid-1998 with aspirations to be a key South-East Asian hub but it has suffered from high-profile service cancellations from All Nippon Airways, Aeroflot, British Airways, Lufthansa and Qantas Airways. Northwest Airlines will suspend operations to Kuala Lumpur at the end of the summer season.

The government is meanwhile hoping that finally closing Kuala Lumpur's domestic airport at Subang will boost KLIA's fortunes. It has decided to shut Subang from April next year when a high-speed rail link is scheduled to connect KLIA to the city centre. It is expected that Subang will remain open in some form, probably for charter and VIP traffic.

KLIA is 70km (40 miles) from the city centre and was built to replace Subang as the country's main international gateway. The latter was originally to have closed after KLIA opened.

However the government agreed to keep it open for domestic flights after local airlines and passengers complained about travelling times and inadequate transport links to Sepang.

Source: Airline Business