SEPANG, Malaysia (AFP) ― Malaysia this week opens what it calls the world’s largest airport built specifically for low-cost airlines, a project driven by budget travel’s phenomenal growth but which debuts under the shadow of missing flight MH370.
The $1.2 billion facility near the main Kuala Lumpur International Airport was originally targeted to open three years ago but has been hit by repeated delays, amid concerns over safety and subpar construction, even as costs have doubled.
But the new KLIA2 budget terminal began operations Friday with an initial 56 flights, increasing the load as airlines move full operations over from a nearby existing facility in coming days.
Analysts and the traveling public agree the opening of a new budget terminal is long overdue.
The current low-cost terminal is a cramped and bare-bones facility that resembles a bus station. Capacity is 15 million passengers, but about 22 million squeezed through last year.
The gleaming KLIA2 meanwhile covers an area equal to 24 football fields, authorities said, about four times the size of the facility it is replacing.