Guan Eng: Penang airport may turn into ‘pasar malam’

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GEORGE TOWN: The Penang International Airport (PIA) may turn into a busy “pasar malam” if the much-needed expansion plans are not forthcoming, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.

Claiming that the airport was bursting at its seams, Lim said it was disappointing that the federal government could not expand PIA, but was willing to provide funds to expand airports in other states, where capacity is yet to be reached.

“Some airports which have not hit their capacity are getting expansion projects. This is political revenge. Penang provides RM7 billion in taxes and duties.

“If we are another year late to expand the airport, it would be like a night market. Hence, we would have to change the name of the airport to ‘Pasar Malam Antarabangsa Pulau Pinang’,” Lim said in a press conference in Komtar here today.

Lim was responding to a report by business daily The Malaysian Reserve, which reported Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai as saying the application to upgrade the PIA could not be considered.

Liow was quoted as saying this was due to “allocation constraints experienced by the federal government”.

The PIA is the second busiest airport in the country after the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Lim had previously asked Putrajaya to expand the airport to handle at least 10 million passengers per annum.

PIA hit 6.2 million arrivals last year, with a 6% growth expected this year. The current design only allows for 6.5 million passengers up to 2020.