AirAsia needs to back down over Klia2 before it has a negative impact on the brand

AirAsia has been involved in a long running dispute with Malaysia Airports (MAHB) over Terminal 2 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Basically AirAsia wants to change the name of the terminal to LCCT2. You can read more about that here.

Today, the CEO of AirAsia Aireen Omar is reported to have said, “AirAsia is set to change the name klia2 to LCCT2 (Low-Cost Carrier Terminal 2) on its website and promotional materials.”

“Aireen said the move would also send a clear message to MAHB that they should stop denying the existence of AirAsia and its contributions to the growth of the aviation industry.”

OK, first of all I’m no fan of MAHB. KLIA is a tired, depressing, soulless, outdated, poorly designed airport and MAHB doesn’t seem to be interested in the customer experience, making it better or improving the wayfinding. And I use the airport at least 50 times a year.

Nobody owes AirAsia anything
Nobody owes AirAsia anything

But what has ‘denying the existence of AirAsia and its contributions to the growth of the aviation industry’ got to do with not agreeing to change the name of a terminal?

Furthermore, what does Air Asia think it is doing telling MAHB it will change the name of the airport on it’s website even though MAHB doesn’t agree with the name change?

Who do they think they are that they can make such audacious moves and what is the point? Isn’t it going to make it even more confusing for Air Asia passengers? Especially those from other countries.

Are they so arrogant that if a manufacturer tells them an aircraft can only fly so fast, are they going to ignore that manufacturer because it doesn’t suit them? Talk about a baby throwing it’s toys out of the pram because it doesn’t get it’s own way!!

AirAsia may be trying to send a defiant message to MAHB but to me it portrays the airline as arrogant, out of touch, unreasonable, petulant, pedantic and stubborn. Is that the sort of culture one wants at an airline?

Can you imagine Cebu Air telling Changi that if doesn’t change the name of terminal 3 to LCCT3 it will do so on it’s website and collaterals? Or Air France changing the name of Heathrow Terminal 2 to French national carrier terminal 2?

And the irony is that changing the name to LCCT2 is wrong anyway. Firstly it’s going to cause confusion on so many levels – where is LCCT1? How do I get from LCCT2 to Klia? Is it a long way? And so on.

AirAsia has done an amazing job of bringing aviation to the masses. But no one owes it anything. It needs to remember that or it could join the more than 350 airlines that have come and gone in the last 50 years.

Calling the second terminal at KLIA LCCT2 is a terrible idea

The irrepresible Malaysian entrepreneur, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has another mega deal on the table, this time he’s reported to be getting ready to divest Asia Aviation Capital Ltd, his aircraft leasing company for about US$1 billion.

Despite this big deal on the cards, he hasn’t stopped having a go at Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) over the last couple of weeks. Last Friday, June 10th he was reported to be ‘shocked to see water pouring out of a ceiling at the relatively new airport in Kota Kinabalu.

Please do not call an airport terminal LCCT2
Please do not call an airport terminal LCCT2

And then on 13th June he berated MAHB again, this time for denying Kuala Lumpur International Airport terminal 2 was a low cost terminal and that the name didn’t mean anything.

He was quoted as saying, “To me, klia2 doesn’t mean anything. LCCT2, on the other hand, is synonymous with low-cost. It’s a brand we built up together with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and it shouldn’t go to waste.”

I’m not sure why any brand would be pleased their product was synonymous with low cost. AirAsia might be called a Low Cost Carrier but everyone knows it isn’t. In fact there are times when it is the most expensive of the 3 main carriers in Malaysia. Certainly on some domestic routes.

He went on to say, “As we grow towards becoming the Dubai of Asia, we want the world to know that the best value fares are here in Malaysia.” Hang on a minute, what are we selling here? If we name an airport terminal LCCT2, how will the world know that the best value fares are here in Malaysia?

Social Media wasn’t impressed either. One wag was rumoured to have posted on Facebook “Low-Cost Carrier Terminal 2 (LCCT2)? “I spent 6 months training to do the walk to Everest base camp once but my elderly mother and I weren’t prepared for the long trek through empty airport halls and past retail outlets, in the long pre-journey, journey from check-in to our boarding gates!”

Another in keeping with the Himalayan theme, is reported to have said, “I was flying to Bangkok and on my way to the departure lounge I passed Sherpa Tensing coming the other way. He looked exhausted but still managed to tell me he had given up before he got to the gate.” Apparently it was just too far.

But joking aside, why would you want to call an airport terminal ‘Low-Cost Carrier Terminal 2 (LCCT2)?’ I mean for a start it isn’t Low Cost Carrier Terminal 2. It’s LCCT1 because there currently isn’t an LCCT1. I think anyone reading that would think it was the name of an airline and that the airline had sponsored the terminal.

Why can't we do what everyone else does and have the airport name followed by the terminal number?
Why can’t we do what everyone else does and have the airport name followed by the terminal number?

No airline aspires to be cheap and no terminal aspires to be low cost. But more importantly, what is a non English speaking mainland Chinese person, Korean investor or Australian traveller to make of that moniker?

Is it going to help them navigate through the maze and warrens of Kuala Lumpur’s terminal 2? Of course it isn’t. Is it going to help make an already stressful experience even more stressful? I’d bet the farm on it.

Bearing in mind the airport has been known for a long time as KLIA, now that they’ve built a second terminal at the same airport, wouldn’t it make more sense to name the terminal ‘Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2’ or KLIAT2? I do appreciate this would require Klia1 to be renamed but that’s a necesity as well because what does Klia1 mean? Is it referring to the terminal? It’s position or what?

Klia 2 doesn't really mean anything so we need to change it
Klia 2 doesn’t really mean anything so we need to change it

KLIA should be like every other airport in the world that is designed with the passenger in mind. Think Heathrow Terminal 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, Dubai Terminal 1, 2 and 3 or Singapore Changi terminal 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Surely that makes it easier for everyone concerned? Calling it LCCT2 really is a terrible idea.