Even a ‘cargo-only’ Kulim airport will impact Penang badly, says Chow

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today disagreed with a suggestion that his government ought to accept the construction of an international airport in Kedah, as suggested by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

On Tuesday, Lim had told the Penang assembly that the state need not object to the Kulim airport as it would be built through a private financing initiative (PFI), saving federal funds.

Kedah plans to build an international airport in Kulim at a cost of RM1.6 billion.

Putrajaya has given the go-ahead for the airport.

“Lim is the finance minister. Maybe, he is purely looking at the proposal from the perspective of the ministry.

“I suppose he thinks that since it does not involve government money, the finance ministry and the federal government should have no problem with the project.

“But it does not mean all PFI is good. In this case, it might be good for Kulim but it may not be good for Penang,” Chow said at a press conference outside the state assembly today.

On Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir’s remarks that the Kulim airport would be solely a cargo facility, Chow disagreed, saying the feasibility reports he had seen showed it would include passengers as well.

He said even if the Kulim airport is a cargo-only facility, it would adversely impact the cargo facility at Penang International Airport (PIA).

Chow had recently said it had seen the reports by two consultants —KPMG Corporate Advisory, acting on behalf of the federal Economic Planning Unit, and KLIA Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd, hired by the Kedah government. Both indicated the Kulim airport will have a negative impact on PIA.

He said according to the reports, the Kulim airport will not serve a “complementary” function to PIA but would be in direct competition to PIA.