Penang airport expansion still a necessity as the northern gateway, says exco

Penang state exco Yeoh Soon Hin says the PIA is a gateway for the northern region and it is already at overcapacity. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang state exco Yeoh Soon Hin says the PIA is a gateway for the northern region and it is already at overcapacity. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 19 — Penang state exco Yeoh Soon Hin has appealed to the federal government to prioritise the expansion of the Penang International Airport (PIA) after the completion of its National Airport Strategic Plan (NASP) study.

The Tourism, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman said the PIA is a gateway for the northern region and it is already at overcapacity.

“With PIA exceeding the capacity of 6.5 million passengers since 2016, and a record of 8.53 million passengers in 2019, the airport is overcrowded and would leave an undesirable impression internationally,” he said.

He added that the PIA also faced insufficient parking, water leakage and flooding in recent years.

“Therefore, the expansion is much needed for Penang,” he said in a statement issued today.

The Penang lawmaker said now is a suitable time to carry out the expansion plan while the country’s borders are still closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This would also ensure that when the pandemic improves and the international border reopens fully in the future, Penang would be ready to welcome foreign tourists optimally and support the recovery process of Penang tourism,” he said.

He said the NASP study that the federal government is undertaking is necessary for the country’s aviation and tourism industry.

“However, I hope the Transport Ministry will consider the PIA expansion a priority after the completion of the study as the expansion would be key towards promoting the state and country’s economic development in the long term,” he said.

Yeoh was responding to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong’s parliamentary reply that the PIA expansion project is on hold pending the completion of the NASP study.

Wee had said the NASP study, which will look into airport developments and Short Take-Off Landing Airports in the country, is expected to complete in 2023 in line with the National Transport Policy.

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

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