GEORGE TOWN, May 30 — The Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project and the proposed Kulim International Airport (KXP) have not been approved by the Ministry of Transport (MoT) yet, the state legislative assembly heard today.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow told the legislative assembly that the state is in contact with MoT regarding the PIA expansion project but the ministry has repeatedly said that all airport projects are still on hold, pending the completion of the National Airports Strategic Plan (NASP) study.

"So, whether it is the Penang International Airport expansion project or the construction of a new airport in Kulim, till now, there are no approvals for either project,” he said in reply to an additional question from Opposition leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Nor (BN-Sungai Dua).

"We can look at this positively, if the industries in the northern region see growth and there is a need for the airport expansion, then this is where the NASP study can provide the data for the ministry to make an informed decision,” Chow added.

Meanwhile, in a written reply to a question from Ong Khan Lee, state exco Zairil Khir Johari said the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the airline industry in the country, especially Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad’s (MAHB) ability to fund the PIA expansion project.

He said the airline industry may till 2025 to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic.

"Based on the latest developments and less demand in the national airline industry, this expansion project is postponed until the airline industry recovers,” he said in his written reply.

He said during this period, the federal government is resolving other issues such as land acquisition for the expansion project.

"The federal government is currently looking into the details of the lands involved and this will be known after the land acquisition process is finalised,” he said.

He added that the transport ministry is in the process of applying for allocation under the third rolling plan of the 12th Malaysia Plan to proceed with the land acquisition process.

At the same time, he said the ministry started the NASP study in early March this year and it will take 18 months to finalise.