Guan Eng: Upgrade Penang’s ‘pasar malam’ airport

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GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has called on the Federal Government to increase Penang airport’s passenger capacity without delay, claiming that it has become so congested that it is called the “Penang Pasar Malam International Airport”.

Lim said the state was requesting the federal authorities to upgrade the airport to enable it to handle 10 million passengers a year as the current airport’s capacity of 6.5 million passengers had already been breached, although this was expected to happen only in 2020.

“Currently, Penang International Airport is so congested that there are those who call it the Penang Pasar Malam International Airport,” he said in a statement today.

He pointed out that Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai had in May replied to him on the issue in Parliament by stressing that the Federal Government was considering the matter.

In his written reply to Lim, Liow had said the ministry definitely had plans to upgrade the airport so that it could handle a capacity of up to 10 million passengers compared to the current 6.5 million.

“Hence, the ministry has made an application for allocation under the 11th Malaysia Plan’s (2016-2020) Second Rolling Plan and this is currently still in the process of being considered by the Economic Planning Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department,” Liow had said.

Lim said there was still no concrete proposal for the airport’s upgrading except for a RM80 million five-storey car park that would have 3,300 bays, to be built next year in two phases. It is estimated that each phase would take two years to complete, he said.

He stressed that the Penang airport was the most profitable airport for operator Malaysia Airports Bhd after the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and its adjacent klia2.

Noting the importance of tourist arrivals, he added that it was of public and national importance that the upgrading be undertaken urgently.

The Federal Government completed a RM250 million upgrading project for the Penang airport’s passenger terminal in 2012.

In his reply to Lim, Liow had also mentioned that there had been two incidents of ceiling collapses (since the 2012 upgrading) at the airport with a staff from ground services provider KLAS sustaining injuries. The victim had been given necessary treatment and was now back to work, Liow said.