AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) is in talks with the government of the Malaysian state of Sarawak over plans to develop Kuching International Airport.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg told a press conference this week that he was certain the negotiations would be fruitful thus leading to increased tourism to the region.

According to The Star newspaper, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said the low-cost carrier conglomerate was willing to proceed with the construction of an LCC terminal in Kuching. The facility is estimated to cost between MYR200-300 million ringgits (USD51-77 million). However, the final go-ahead would depend on the cost of the land needed for building.

“We are ready (to go ahead with the project once project approval is obtained from the Sarawak government),” he said. “Sarawak is a brilliant point between North Asia and Australia. We see it as a Dubai of this part of the world. People come out from Australia can stop in Kuching before they go to China and vice-versa; China, Korea and Japan can stop in Sarawak for a few days and go down to Australia. I think it is an equitable distance and it’s a great location and that is why I am very keen to have our hub here."

Should the project proceed, AirAsia intends to bolster connectivity between Sarawak and other domestic and international destinations.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, AirAsia is Kuching's largest carrier by weekly departures offering 261 (54.38%) against Malaysia Airlines' 165 (34.38%). In terms of existing service, the budget carrier currently connects Kuching with Bintulu, Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur Int'l, Langkawi, Miri, Penang, and Sibu locally as well as Pontianak, Shenzhen, and Singapore Changi regionally.