The MSN website is reporting that Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s new budget passenger terminal is sinking, with cracks appearing in the taxiway and water forming pools that planes must drive through.
The defects could cause flight delays, increase wear and tear on planes and pose potential safety risks, according to AirAsia Bhd., the new terminal’s biggest user. Though take offs and landings aren’t affected, the carrier has asked Malaysian authorities to fix the problems before passengers get hurt, Chief Executive Officer Aireen Omar said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur.
“The airport is still sinking,” Aireen said. The operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd., “has done some partial resurfacing, but what the airport actually needs is a permanent solution.”
Complaints about the new terminal cap a bad run for Malaysia’s aviation industry, after two deadly accidents for the national carrier -- the unsolved disappearance of Flight MH370 in March 2014 and the shooting down of another plane over Ukraine last July. Construction expenses for klia2, as the new terminal is known, ballooned from an initial estimate of about 1.7 billion ringgit ($446 million) to 4 billion ringgit.
Construction of klia2 started in 2009 after the growth of low-cost travel, particularly by Malaysia-based AirAsia, pushed passenger traffic beyond the existing budget terminal’s capacity. At 257,000 square meters, klia2 can handle 45 million passengers, with the potential to expand.
Malaysia Airports said the depressions and ponding at klia2 were caused by differential soil settlement in the apron and taxiway, where some of the structure is built on piling and some stands on normal ground.
The settling “has been anticipated from the start of construction,” Malaysia Airports said in an e-mailed response to questions. Stakeholders such as AirAsia are updated weekly on the progress of the maintenance and are “constantly engaged on operational issues.”
The airport is addressing the issue by patching and resurfacing problem areas and injecting polyurethane under the ground. A concrete slab to be completed by next April will provide a more permanent solution, Malaysia Airports said.
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