GEORGE TOWN, Jan 14 — International passenger arrivals to the Penang International Airport (PIA) increased by 15.21 per cent last year compared to 2017, said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
He said total international passenger arrivals in 2018 were 1.782 million as compared to 1.546 million in 2017.
He said the PIA also recorded passenger traffic of 7.780 million last year which was an increase of 7.59 per cent compared to 7.232 million in 2017.
“These figures suggested that the proposed expansion plan for the PIA is overdue as the passenger traffic had already surpassed the airport capacity of 6.5 million,” he told reporters after a cheque presentation ceremony in Komtar here.
He said the state government is still awaiting “good news” from the federal government and relevant parties on the proposed expansion project.
“There is no final decision on the expansion plans yet, the original proposal by the Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad was to increase the capacity to 12 million passengers,” he said.
He said Putrajaya has revealed that the government is in the process of restructuring all airport concessions and management.
“So we will wait for the federal government decision with regards to how soon the expansion can be carried out,” he said.
He said the expansion is necessary, not only to increase capacity but also to increase direct flights coming into PIA.
“The numbers are increasing each year, without expanding the PIA, we can’t give more slots for direct flights and we can’t attract more airlines to Penang,” he said.
He said Penang aimed to have more direct flights to Penang especially from East Asian countries.
Chow said there were new international direct flights and increased number of flights connecting to Penang in 2018.
“As of November 2018, there were a total 283 international direct flights per week to Penang, which is a 21.9 per cent growth from the previous year of 232 flights,” he said.
The new direct flights introduced last year were to Hanoi and Phuket by AirAsia, Doha by Qatar Airways, Banda Acheh and Nanning by Malindo Airline and Jakarta and Surabaya by Citilink.
The flights with increased frequencies were to Hong Kong, Doha, Taipei, Phuket and Jakarta.
Earlier, Chow handed over a total allocation of RM1.425 million to 12 secondary vernacular Chinese schools in Penang.
The allocation, of between RM60,000 to RM150,000 each school, is to fund the construction of new school buildings, repairs of school buildings and structure and upgrading of toilets and classrooms in the schools.
To date, the state government has allocated a total RM12.6 million to the vernacular Chinese schools in the state.