MALAYSIA'S aviation industry needs better infrastructure to support the robust growth that it has seen in the past few years, especially at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and its low-cost carrier terminal, where traffic is becoming more congested.
One of the beneficiaries of the growth is AirAsia Bhd, Asia's largest low-cost carrier, but the airline says it could do better if Malaysia has more efficient facilities.
"It will be great if we have the latest up-to-date facilities, such as air traffic control equipment, so that the airport traffic operation is done in the most efficient manner," AirAsia chief executive officer Aireen Omar told Business Times recently.
She said many airlines, including AirAsia, which carried some 10.7 million passengers in the first nine months of this year, are experiencing delays in take-offs and landings as the air traffic controller may not have the right equipment to handle the speed of growth that the industry is experiencing.
"We need to have the latest facilities in order to better manage the air traffic as it is becoming increasingly congested and causing delays to many airlines," Aireen said.
An improved management of air traffic will become more important as Malaysia approaches Visit Malaysia Year 2014, plus the fact that the country is enticing more foreign airlines to fly into KLIA in the coming years to make the country a regional aviation hub.
This year alone, KLIA welcomed six new airlines - Thai Smile, Malindo Airways, Air France, Turkish Airlines, Philippines Airlines and Iraqi Airways.
The airport is waiting for the possible return of legacy carriers British Airways and Qantas Airways Ltd.
On her 2014 Budget wish list, Aireen said she would like to see the local aviation industry grow with more assistance and support from the government.
"For us to be able to offer much lower fares and stimulate more travel by foreign tourists into Malaysia, we look forward to seeing more incentives from the authorities, such as much lower parking and airport charges, so that the savings can be passed down to passengers.
"A solid growth incentive scheme must also be developed and perfected to reward airlines showing growth in performance and number of passengers carried year-on-year."
She added that an airline's good performance will definitely benefit the airport operator in terms of aeronautical and ancillary revenues, plus contributing to more returns for the tourism sector.
At present, AirAsia is already doing its part by offering low fares.
"We want to do more, so the appropriate incentives have to be in place to help us achieve greater passenger numbers," she said.