KLIA2 rebranding spat continues

Transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has stepped in on the recent disagreement between AirAsia and Malaysia Airports Holdings (MAHB) on the renaming of the second terminal of its national airport, KLIA2.

According to numerous media reports, Liow has called the ongoing debate something which is “unnecessary and impractical” and the different stakeholders need to collaborate to benefit Malaysia.

The spat was sparked by AirAsia as it announced plans for a campaign promoting budget terminal KLIA2 as Low-Cost Carrier Terminal 2 (LCCT2). This, is said was to reinforce Kuala Lumpur’s position as the leading low-cost gateway to Asia and beyond. MAHB responded by a press statement saying the name change would not happen as “calling it by any other name would only serve in misleading and causing confusion to the public and passengers.”

“In the International Air Trans­port Association, KLIA2 is registered as part of KLIA’s official code, namely ‘KUL’. It is not practical, accurate or necessary to rename KLIA2. Names should not be changed for the sake of changing,” Leow reportedly said to The Star.

According to the article, Liow acknowledged AirAsia’s intentions to rebrand KLIA2 in order to bring in more travellers and said the ministry is open to hearing proposals from the airline. He added that the government has long been in support of the nation's low-cost carriers, and in particular AirAsia.

AirAsia currently occupies 97% of operations at KLIA2, providing services to 37,000 guests daily, according to figures mentioned by CEO Aireen Omar.

In an earlier conversation with A+M,  Jonathan Bonsey, principal creative and executive officer of The Bonsey Design Partnership, agreed with MAHB’s response on the need to associate KLIA2 with capital airport KLIA, stating that budget travel in Asia is the rule rather than the exception. Hence any airport should include both budget and scheduled carrier operations.

While he agreed that KLIA2 has a strong AirAsia presence, the name change might be counter intuitive in MAHB’s efforts in improving its offering to travellers. Naming the terminal LCCT2 might associate KLIA2 with the previous low-cost terminal which provided a less enjoyable experience to travellers.

On the other hand, Nick Foley, president of the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions, Landor said that MAHB should have gone with AirAsia’s suggestion.