New airports depend on National Airports Strategic Plan

The Penang International Airport will be expanded to handle 20 million passengers a year, depending on availability of land, says Deputy Transport Minister Kamarudin Jaffar.

PETALING JAYA: New airports will only be built in the country after taking into account the proximity of nearby ones and in accordance with guidelines being drawn up by the National Airports Strategic Plan (NASP) next year.

The blueprint, part of an 18-month study commissioned by the Malaysian Aviation Commission, will be ready by December 2020 and will outline the framework for the future development of airports, said Deputy Transport Minister Kamarudin Jaffar.

“The NASP would be the government’s reference in planning and considering proposals for new airports in the country.

“Generally, the NASP will lay out long-term guidelines for construction of an airport system which is not only efficient and competitive but also connected to other modes of transport,” Kamarudin said in reply to a question from Ngeh Koo Ham (PH-Beruas) in the Dewan Rakyat.

Ngeh had asked if the government had plans to build a new airport or upgrade existing ones in the northern region to meet increased demand.

Referring to the Penang International Airport, Kamarudin said it will be upgraded to handle 12 million passengers a year against 6.5 million passengers currently.

Depending on land availability, he said, the second phase would have the capacity to accommodate 20 million passengers.

Kamarudin said the government had upgraded the Langkawi International Airport to handle 4 million passengers and planned to introduce aerobridges to allow easy exit of passengers into the terminal from wide-body planes such as Boeing 787s.

The Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh, on the other hand, will see the runway lengthened to meet increased flights from China and India, now being discussed by the Perak government.

On the proposed international airport in Kulim, Kedah, Kamarudin said it was in the interim stage and undergoing “certain processes”.

“We are open to all proposals from anyone to improve the economy by building airports in the northern region,” he said, adding that airports generally boosted logistics and tourism.

Replying to a supplementary question from Ngeh if a new airport was coming up in Bagan Serai, he said upgrading Ipoh airport’s runway was a priority and if there were plans for Bagan Serai, they could be considered.