KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — A photograph circulating on social media recently has intensified speculation in Sabah that its international airport in Kota Kinabalu may be shifted to Kimanis, some 45 minutes' drive from the state capital.

The photo shows four men seated at a long table against a backdrop with the words "Relocation of Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Kimanis" and "June 2022", though the exact date has been obscured.

News portal The Vibes reported that the photo was supposedly a rehearsal for a signing ceremony between state-owned strategic investment arm, Qhazanah Sabah Bhd, and property developer Berjaya Land Bhd that is supposed to take place today.

It alleged that two of the four men pictured to be Qhazanah Sabah CEO Ahmad Rizal Dahli and Berjaya Group founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan.

The Vibes cited anonymous sources from Qhazanah Sabah as confirming the authenticity of the picture, but refusing further comment.

Malay Mail is working to verify the speculation.

Rumours of another international airport started yesterday when Deputy Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin mentioned Kudat, which is three hours away from Kota Kinabalu, as a possible location in his speech at the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster port declaration ceremony.

But The Vibes reported another Deputy Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Joachim Gunsalam saying that Qhazanah Sabah has been tasked to find a suitable location for the international airport.

"KKIA is very close to the city and in the long-term, the government is now looking for a new airport,” Joachim was quoted as saying.

Talks about expanding KKIA have been ongoing for years following its growth in passenger volume.

Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin previously cited the National Airport Master Plan 2008 that said the existing KKIA has a maximum capacity of 21 million passengers per year.