Penang mulls second international airport on reclaimed island

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (right) with state executive councillor Chong Eng (left) at Komtar today.

GEROGE TOWN: Penang is studying plans to build a second international airport on one of the three proposed reclaimed islands in about 30 years’ time, as part of a long-term plan to support the growth of passengers to the state.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the existing Penang International Airport (PIA) can expand its capacity to a theoretical 20 million passengers per year.

As such, he added, the state must look to other areas to build a new airport.

He acknowledged plans to boost PIA’s current capacity from 6.5 million passengers per year to 16 million, but said the reality was that the airport would need more space for runways.

He added that the space constraints around PIA and its runway at the southeast of the island would make it impossible to expand without having to acquire the entire Free Industrial Zone.

“The latest terminal expansion for PIA will last us another 10 to 20 years, but what do we do beyond that, when air traffic increases and the runway is not enough?

“We need to look at a new airport. One of the three reclaimed islands remains an option, besides Batu Maung.”

Chow said discussions had been held with the consultant, with a term of reference and scope of study drawn up.

“The bottom line is, we will study if Penang needs a new airport beyond 30 years from now, and if there is a need, where exactly it should be located,” he said at a press conference after the launch of the state gender equality policy at Komtar today.

Current passenger arrivals are close to seven million.

The three reclaimed islands are part of the proposed RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan, which has yet to be approved.

On Kedah’s proposal that an international airport be built in Kulim, Chow said the National Transport Council had heard that it would be used only for cargo.

However, he also noted a feasibility study received from Kedah last year which he said indicated that it would be a passenger airport as well.

He said the Penang government had no objection to the airport as long as Kedah adheres to the conditions set by federal regulators.

Nevertheless, he added, many studies had to be done before the Kulim airport is built.

On a separate issue, he said the island’s light rail transit project from Komtar to Bayan Lepas will likely be given conditional approval by the Land Public Transport Authority “soon”.