CM: Penang airport expansion on hold pending strategic study

A general view of the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas October 23, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A general view of the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas October 23, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 13 — Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today said the proposed Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project has been put on hold pending the finalisation of a National Airport Strategy Plan (NASP) study by the government.

The Penang lawmaker referred to the transport minister’s reply to his oral question in Parliament regarding the status of the PIA expansion project and the details of the proposed Kulim International Airport (KXP) in Kedah.

“We took note of the reply I received in Parliament that any proposal related to the development of a new airport including the proposals to upgrade the PIA and develop the KXP will only be considered after the NASP study is finalised by the government,” he said.

He said the ministry stated that the NASP study, which will include studies on airport development and Short Take-Off Landing Airports in the country, is expected to complete in 2023 in line with the National Transport Policy.

According to the reply by the transport minister, the NASP study was to determine the direction of airport development in Malaysia in terms of its roles, airspace requirement, and economic and strategic studies so that the development of the airport could be implemented based on real needs as laid out in a full study.

The ministry stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the tourism industry and airlines.

“This has led to uncertainties in the industry which increased the risks that will further burden the airline industry,” the ministry said.

It said the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy and the country, especially on the tourism and airline sectors, will need a certain period of recovery that could take between two and three years.

The ministry said any new proposals for airport development or expansion will only be considered after the NASP study is finalised by the government.

The Penang state government has been asking for the PIA to be expanded since 2017 to increase its capacity from 6.5 million passengers per year to 12 million passengers.

Despite several announcements in recent years that the expansion project will commence soon, work never started.

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