GEORGE TOWN, Dec 1 — Putrajaya must immediately approve the expansion of the Penang International Airport as it is reaching its maximum capacity of 6.5 million passengers, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
The Bagan MP said the terminal needs to be upgraded to avoid overcrowding, which he said would hurt the airport’s image.
“The airport is now crowded like a ‘pasar malam’,” Lim said in a statement released today in response to a written parliamentary reply by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai that plans to build a four-star hotel or any commercial complex at the airport was cancelled.
“Now, only the carpark lots will be expanded and we hope their promise to build a multi-level car park to increase the parking capacity to 3,000 lots will not remain as empty promises like Putrajaya’s previous empty promises,” he said.
The Penang chief minister then accused Putrajaya of continuously sidelining Penang in recent years, including the federal government’s reluctance to approve an expansion project for the airport and now, the rejection of the state government’s application for a RM805 million flood mitigation project.
He reminded Putrajaya that Penang is still a part of Malaysia and should not be sidelined and neglected because it is governed by political rivals.
“This is very unfair even though Penang pays RM6.3 billion in taxes and custom duties every year and we are only getting a two per cent return only,” he said.
In his written reply, Liow said that Penang International Airport is capable of handling 6.6 million passengers annually and it recorded 6 million passengers in 2014.
He said the Economic Planning Unit is currently studying the possible development of international airports in the north of the peninsula, which is expected to be completed in six months.
Penang has been asking for the airport to be expanded to be able to meet with increasing number of passengers using the airport for domestic and international travel instead of the proposal by Kedah for Putrajaya to build an international airport in Kulim.