GEORGE TOWN: The Transport Ministry has outlined several short and long-term measures to address the lack of capacity at the Penang International Airport (PIA).
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said this was conveyed in a written reply by Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook on Monday.
Chow, who is also Tanjung MP, had asked when the airport expansion to increase the capacity to 12 million passengers will take place.
Loke said as a short-term measure, the ministry, through the Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), is planning to implement terminal optimisation to reduce the congestion, especially during peak hours.
“Terminal optimisation is expected to be completed in the second quarter of next year.
“Among the work scope involved in the optimisation process is the relocation of airline ticket counters, increasing check-in counters and immigration counters, as well as renovating the baggage reclaim carousel,” Chow said today.
He said he was also told that MAHB was in the process of preparing a tender to appoint a contractor to carry out renovation work at the airport.
“Renovation is expected to take five months and it is expected to be completed in February next year,” he said.
As a long-term measure, Chow said, MAHB planned to increase the passenger handling capacity from 6.5 million passengers a year to 12 million passengers a year. It was now in the process of appointing a consultant through open tender.
As for the details on the project’s overall costs, Chow said it was subject to detailed studies which would be carried out by the appointed consultant.
“The government will study the development model and the suitable funding method to ensure the airport expansion can be carried out in a cost-effective manner.
“In this regard, I would also like to inform that no land will be acquired for the expansion as the existing land is sufficient,” he said.
Chow said the state welcomed the study to increase the airport’s capacity to 12 million and expressed hope that the ministry and MAHB would engage with the state government, as it was the most important stakeholder.
“We would like to extend our cooperation to MAHB. In addition, the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) at one point, had acquired land around the airport area, hence it also has an interest to take part in the airport expansion, which will include cargo facilities.
“We hope the ministry and MAHB will get in touch with us, specifically with the PDC, to work together to make this expansion a success,” he said.
Chow noted that with a passenger growth rate of 10% annually, there was a pressing need for the airport to be expanded.
“We will follow this very closely. Now that the state and federal governments are aligned, hopefully the two governments, along with other local authorities and state agencies can work together,” he added.
The present airport was designed to handle 6.5 million passengers a year, but as of last year, the number of passengers at the airport had reached 7.2 million.