Thanks to Tony Fernandes, the big boss of Air Asia, who is crusading against Malaysia Airports, the corporation that operates Malaysian airports, for raising airport taxes without justification of better services and facilities (read HERE as well) we should start asking why do we need airport that is iconic and extravagant. Tony has the clout because Air Asia is a key client of Malaysian airports, especially LCCT and KLIA2 that is projected to be ready in April 2013 replacing LCCT and he doesn't believe air travelers should be made to pay higher taxes than necessary. The concern is why do we need airports that go beyond its purpose of accommodating departing and arriving air travelers. In an earlier blog I question the need for the airports to be turned into a shopping mall for duty free goods or with grandiose designs. It seems the world over, especially those showy type of governments who think a palatial airport design will impress arriving travelers to revisit their countries, airports being usually the first physical structure that greet them from the air or upon landing. Unfortunately with air travel common place now we rather have airports that help us clear quickly to our flights and from our flights without the frills, delays and higher costs.
I disagree that airports be over designed that the operators seek to recover the additional costs by raising taxes. I have been to several U.S. airports, both international and domestic that are pleasantly laid out and not screaming for attention. Airport arrival and departure halls should be functional and practical. not necessarily opulent. Airport operators should carry their business as a public service and not as a profit centre. Otherwise this trend will extend to bus, train and ferry terminals that passengers will be forced to pay terminal taxes when all they want is pay the fares to get from A to B. We are already paying highway taxes (called toll AND road taxes) and must not be burdened to pay supplementary related taxes that will push the cost of traveling by whatever mode even higher.
An example of an opulent airport, Dubai International Airport.