GEORGE TOWN, Oct 6 — The federal government should take advantage of the current downtime to start expanding the Penang International Airport (PIA) to boost tourism in future, state executive councillor Yeoh Soon Hin said today.
The tourism and creative economy committee chairman there was no time like the present with incoming flights reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have less visitors now so it is the best time to expand the airport in preparation for the reopening of the country’s borders in future,” he said.
Rather than deferring or stopping the PIA expansion on grounds that the aviation industry will only fully recover in 2025, Yeoh said the federal government should be forward thinking.
“The winning formula here is to plan in advance,” he said.
“PIA is one of the important gateways to destinations in South-east Asia,” he said.
“Without this expansion, PIA will not have adequate capacity to host the potential influx of international flights, which will also harm the entire tourism ecosystem, including cruise tourism,” he added.
Yeoh hopes Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong will reconsider his ministry’s decision to put all proposed new airports and expansion plans on hold until the aviation sector recovers.
Yesterday, Wee said the expansion plan for PIA will also be postponed as the government is resolving issues such as land acquisition in the vicinity of the airport for the expansion works.