GEORGE TOWN: The open tender for the Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project is expected to be called at the end of this year, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said the government had approved both the PIA expansion project and the Kulim International Airport (KXP) development project, on condition that they were carried out through private finance initiative (PFI).
The expansion project could be implemented faster, he said, as the feasibility study had been carried out and the passenger traffic capacity had exceeded the maximum.
“There are many parties interested in investing in PIA as they see the potential, based on the 6.5 million maximum annual capacity now.
“This airport is already seeing eight million passengers and this project is not starting from ground zero as the feasibility study has been completed.
“I hope the tender will be called at the end of this year,” he told reporters after officiating the groundbreaking ceremony for Aemulus Corporation Sdn Bhd’s new plant at Bayan Lepas today.
Lim said the project was expected to raise the Penang International Airport’s maximum capacity to 16 million passengers a year, with the potential for further expansion to 20 million passengers later through private finance initiatives.
He said the private sector financing for the Penang and Kulim projects reflected investors’ confidence in the government, whereas the two projects did not get the previous government’s approval.
Asked about Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s call for a feasibility study on the Kulim project, Lim, who is also the Bagan MP, said all airport projects must have such a study.
“The proposal to build KXP is still at an early stage. We are waiting for a concrete investor to put forward a proposal before we can finalise anything,” he said.
However, Lim said the finance ministry had no objection to construction of the Kulim airport if it is done through the private finance initiative.
On Tuesday, Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali announced that the government had approved several high-impact projects for Kedah costing more than RM3.6 billion, including the construction of the Kulim airport that would involve an investment of RM1.6 billion.
The following day, Chow called for the federal government to conduct a feasibility study before starting the project.