SEPANG, Nov 1 — A baggage service from KLIA to the KL Sentral city terminal failed to garner customers because Malaysian Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) wanted to charge RM45 per passenger, RM10 higher than the fast train service between both points.
The Malaysian Insider understands that this was the price being negotiated with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to pay for the RM184 million baggage retrieval system that is still not being used to allow city checkouts, the main revenue source for the project that was planned a decade ago.
There is no charge now for sending bags from the terminal to KLIA via the 57km Express Rail Link (ERL), which charges RM35 for a one-way trip.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said today that MAHB’s price was too high but refused to disclose figures being discussed by the airport operator and the national carrier, so far the only airlines in talks to use the system that was completed in March 2008.
“They are now working on how to reduce the cost to customers. Originally the price was too high. They did not think through the business model properly before implementing it. Now they are trying to solve this problem,” PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said.
But a source told The Malaysian Insider “no one wants to use it because the cost might be an extra RM45 per pax to check your baggage out at KL Sentral.
“Who is going to pay that much? So it is likely MAS will become a scapegoat,” the source said.
The main portion of the system is a “high-speed tray” that links a satellite building near the runway to the main terminal in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) where baggage is reclaimed or diverted to the Express Rail Link (ERL) that heads to KL Sentral.
This was to allow baggage to reach ERL trains quickly enough so as not to delay passengers who only want to reclaim their bags on arrival at the capital.
The Transport Ministry has said in the 2010 Auditor General’s Report that this high-speed system moves baggage five times faster than the old carousel linking the satellite building to the main terminal.
This was in response to the audit’s findings that direct negotiations and delays had caused the project cost to double from RM92.4 million.
However, Azmi insisted today that the project is not a wasted initiative by the Transport Ministry.
“In my opinion and most of the PAC, even if it does not work for Sentral, it increases the speed within KLIA,” the Padang Besar MP said.