PUTRAJAYA, July 1 — The Ministry of Transport (MOT) says the existing facilities at the Penang International Airport (LTAPP) can still handle cargo and passenger demand based on the findings of the National Airport Strategic Plan (NASP) consultant.

The ministry said in a statement today, it has no objection to the implementation of Kedah Aerotropolis MRO Centre of Excellence (KAAMROCE) and Sidam Logistics Aerospace Manufacturing (SLAM) as part of a mixed development under the Kedah Aerotropolis, but currently, there is no need for the development of a new airport.

The ministry also urged the Kedah state government to use the existing Sultan Abdul Halim Airport (LTSAH) in Alor Setar or LTAPP to support KAAMROCE and SLAM in efforts to expedite its implementation.

The statement clarifies the government's stance on the issue surrounding the Kulim International Airport (KXP) following claims that the federal government is being oppressive in budget distribution including the development of the KXP, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim refuted yesterday.

MOT said currently it is conducting the NASP study which is expected to be completed by the end of this year that aims to determine the direction of airport development in Malaysia in terms of physical infrastructure development, airspace requirements, as well as its economic and strategic impacts, among other things, to ensure the development is implemented based on actual needs supported by valid and accurate data.

"LTAPP currently still has sufficient capacity to handle any increase in passenger handling up to 20 million passengers per annum (mppa) until 2042.

"Thus, the construction of Kulim International Airport (KXP) can only be considered after the LTAPP reaches the maximum capacity of 20 million mppa projected in 2042. It should be emphasised that so far, there is no proposal for private participation capable of financing the cost of the KXP project," according to MOT.

Comparing the KXP cargo projection provided by KXP Airportcity and the LTAPP projection provided by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), MOT said the proposed KXP cargo projection was found to be quite high for a new airport, compared to the cargo projection at the already established LTAPP that has an extensive air connectivity network.

"Therefore, the ability of KXP as an international cargo airport based on the cargo projection provided by KXP Airportcity is debatable and unreliable," said MOT.

Meanwhile, MOT said the NASP findings noted that 92 per cent of cargo handled at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was from passenger flight services through belly cargo, whereas only eight per cent of cargo was handled by full-fledged freighter services.

It clearly shows that KXP's reliance on full cargo flight services will not give it a huge boost towards becoming a viable cargo airport as it needs to also rely on passenger flight services to transport cargo.

MOT always takes an open attitude towards any development proposals from the state government or private investors that bring economic benefits, competitive advantage and contribute to sustainable development, adding it will also study in depth any development including airports to ensure that the projects are viable and resilient, it added. — Bernama