KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong today insisted that the Subang Airport will not be taken over by private entities.

However, he said that the airport handler, Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) will be allowed to enter operating agreements (OA) with private companies to develop it.

“The government does not allow the sale of Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah or Subang Airport to any private entity.

“Power is given to MAHB who can sublease and cooperate with private entities,” he said during the winding-up speech for his ministry in Dewan Rakyat today.

Wee said MAHB’s lease to manage and maintain the airport was until 2034, with OA until 2067 and lease agreement for the land.

Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof (Alor Gajah-PN) and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muar-Independent) brought up the issue during the budget debate following report that a private company — WCT Holdings Bhd, whose subsidiary Subang SkyPark operates Subang airport on a concession — was seeking to acquire and operate the airport until 2092.

In May, Business portal The Malaysia Review reported that WCT, a property developer, has put forward a re-concession plan of the whole Subang Airport under a RM3.7 billion redevelopment initiative.

The plan was highly criticised, as MAHB itself is working on an RM1.3 billion masterplan to regenerate Subang Airport into “more than just a city airport”.

MoT then responded by saying it was common practice for industry players to submit proposals to the government via an operating ministry to develop new or existing assets.

Separately, Wee said the proposal for the expansion of the Penang International Airport (PIA) is currently has been put on hold as MAHB deals with cash flow problems due to the pandemic.

He said MAHB had to spend about RM140 million per month to pay salaries of workers and maintain its 39 airports, and that pre-Covid flight traffic would not be reached until 2024.

“Until now MAHB had spent almost RM2 billion to keep operating.

“The proposal (for PIA expansion) is still on the table but it is very hard to implement it now,” he said responding to Lim Guan Eng (Bagan-PH), who asked why the project is still shelved.

In July last year, the Transport Ministry, in a parliamentary written reply to Bayan Baru parliamentarian Sim Tze Tzin, had said that any proposal for new airport development, including the expansion and upgrading of the PIA, would only be considered after the NASP study had been finalised.

The ministry had said that the study on the development of airports and short take-off landing airports in the country was expected to be completed in 2023 in line with the National Transport Policy.

It had also said that the tourism and aviation sectors were among the worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to market uncertainties that heightened risks weighing on the aviation industry