GEORGE TOWN: Penang will likely get a new low-cost carrier (LCC) airport to serve airlines like AirAsia in the next “one or two” years, following the federal government’s plan to call for a bid by private companies to do so.
Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Air Putih) said the project would be fully funded by private companies as the federal government did not have enough funds to build a new airport for the time being.
In his speech to thank the governor at the state assembly, he said the existing Penang International Airport (PIA) was already bursting at its seams, with 7.1 million arrivals compared to the airport’s 6.5-million capacity.
“So we are forced to find new ways by cooperating with private parties such as AirAsia to carry out expansion works in the nearest time and also build a new LCC.
“We are considering expanding the Penang Port through the same way too,” Lim said.
PIA was enlarged in 2012 to meet its current capacity of 6.5 million passengers, which was supposed to last until 2020. However, the numbers shot up to 6.7 million last year.
The Penang government wants an expanded airport with a 15 million passenger capacity, based on the uptrend of tourist arrivals over the years.
PIA is the second busiest airport in the country after the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), with Kota Kinabalu International Airport coming in at third place.
In a press conference outside the chambers, Lim said the LCC project would take place next to the PIA and share the same runway.
“For the expansion of the PIA and the building of the LCC, we want a bidder to come in and pay for it at their own cost.
“We have talked to AirAsia and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad and the reception has been positive. It will be a public-private partnership.
“But before anything, we want to wait for the outcome of these talks first. LCC can be built quickly, say one to two years. As for the PIA main terminal, it might take longer.
“The concern now is when we expand, we must be able to recoup it with the volume of passengers to the airport,” Lim said.
It was previously reported that Citaglobal Airports Sdn Bhd had plans to build a new LCC next to KLIA to accommodate higher passenger numbers.
Citaglobal Airports wanted to develop the terminal on a 182ha plot next to KLIA. The project was reported to be a joint venture with Britain-based airport operator Manchester Airports Group Plc to manage the terminal.