Penang to carry out year-long study on need for second airport

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad says expansion works to the Penang airport will begin in the first quarter of 2020.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang will call for interested parties to carry out a study on whether the state needs a second international airport or if upgrading the current facilities would suffice to meet future needs.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that next month, a request for proposal would be sent out to potential bidders. They will be invited to take part in a one-year study to decide which option is the most viable.

“We just want to be sure that a new airport is needed. If the study says no, then we will drop the plan. We want to gauge all our possibilities,” he said.

Chow said the study would also factor in Kedah’s plan to build an international airport at Kulim, and other factors

He said the Penang government has not had further discussions with Kedah on the Kulim airport. He hoped that the Penang International Airport’s (PIA) expansion could be expedited to cater for the increasing traffic.

Previously, Chow had mooted building a second international airport on reclaimed land at Batu Maung, not far from PIA, or on one of the proposed three islands to be reclaimed further south.

He had said the second airport was to cater for future growth, as the existing PIA could only be expanded to contain a maximum of 20 million passengers per year. There was no way to expand its current runway.

The current capacity of the airport stands at 6.5 million passengers per year, with actual numbers close to 7.78 million last year, official statistics show.

PIA was expanded in 2012 to meet its current capacity, which was supposed to last until 2020. It is the second busiest airport in the country after KLIA, followed by the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

PIA’s operators, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, had said the expansion works to the airport would begin in the first quarter of 2020.

The finance ministry had said an open tender will be called at the end of the year to expand PIA at a cost of RM1.2 billion, through a private financing initiative.