Penang airport expansion likely delayed by a year, says CM

Empty check-in counters at the Penang International Airport. (CM’s office pic )

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says the planned expansion of the Penang International Airport (PIA) might be delayed by six months to a year due to the Covid-19 outbreak and faltering airline industry.

Speaking in a press conference at the airport, he said the expansion work was supposed to begin next month.

“The project has received approval from the relevant local authorities, but I think this is not the right time to carry it out because if the Covid-19 spread prolongs, the airport will not operate efficiently.

“So the operators must consider if the airport expansion would bring benefit or otherwise. I am told they will take six months to a year to decide on this – it’s back to the drawing board for the decision-makers,” he added.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow looks at a flight information display system at the Penang International Airport with his executive councillors and Malaysia Airports officials.

According to data by airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), PIA is the third busiest airport in the country after KLIA and the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

The RM800 million expansion project for PIA was announced by MAHB last December. It was meant to be completed in four phases by 2024.

Under the project, the airport’s capacity was supposed to be expanded to 12 million passengers per year compared to its current 6.5 million passengers per year.

It was expanded to its present capacity in 2012.

PIA recorded eight million passengers in December, a figure which was expected to hit 9.5 million this year.

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