The operator of Kuala Lumpur’s airport rejected a demand from AirAsia Bhd. for damages due to cracking and ponding at the new budget terminal, calling the claims by Southeast Asia’s largest low-cost carrier “wholly unjustified.”
In a statement Friday afternoon to the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. “categorically” denied the demand for 409 million ringgit ($100 million) and said AirAsia’s claims were “unsupported by any particulars.”
AirAsia sent a letter July 31 demanding payment from MAHB and a subsidiary, claiming they breached their duties at the airport. The letter claims problems at the new budget terminal have hurt the reputation of the airline, which is the terminal’s main user.
“AirAsia feels this response is reflective of the dismissive non-engagement approach we have experienced in dealing with Malaysia Airports,” the carrier said in an e-mailed statement. “Malaysia Airports does not attempt to address a single issue raised by AirAsia but instead denies our entire claim wholesale.”
The 4 billion ringgit budget terminal, which opened in May 2014, is sinking, causing cracks in the taxiways and pools of water that planes must drive through, Bloomberg News reported last month. AirAsia says the defects could cause flight delays, increase wear and tear on planes and pose safety risks.
Malaysia Airports says the depressions and ponding are caused by soil settling unevenly in the apron and taxiway, where some of the structure is built on piling and some stands on normal ground. The operator has patched and resurfaced problem areas and is building a concrete slab that it says will serve as a more permanent solution by next April.
“The facts relied upon by AirAsia Berhad to support its claims are misleading and tainted with factual inaccuracies,” MAHB said in its response Friday.
Earlier in the day, a comment from AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes had suggested the sides could find some common ground.
“Met some MAHB directors at open house,” Fernandes tweeted. “Felt that we could resolve our issues. Here’s hoping.”