PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has long-term plans to expand Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) to accommodate the expected increase in passengers from nine to 15.4 million annually, says transport minister Loke Siew Fook.
“The transport ministry will need to initiate a land acquisition process adjacent to the airport,” he said in a written parliamentary reply.
“The land acquisition proposal will be reviewed and considered by the ministry as part of the 12th Malaysia Plan.”
He was replying to a question from Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna) on plans to upgrade KKIA as well as the Tawau and Sandakan airports in view of increased tourist arrivals.
It was reported in July that Qhazanah Sabah Bhd (QSB), the strategic investment arm of the Sabah government, has plans to relocate KKIA to Kimanis, some 60km away.
A report in The Borneo Post said QSB had submitted a feasibility study on the proposed project to the Sabah Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) and received positive response.
Meanwhile, Loke also said the transport ministry had proposed upgrades to Tawau Airport under the 12MP, including increasing its capacity from 1.5 million passengers per year to 2.5 million passengers.
Loke noted that Tawau Airport handled 1.83 million passengers in 2019, exceeding its design capacity by 22%.
“Despite a decrease in passengers due to Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021, MAHB anticipates passenger numbers will return to 2019 levels by 2024 and exceed the existing design capacity,” he said.
Loke added that MAHB projects Sandakan Airport’s current capacity of 1.4 million passengers per year to be sufficient beyond 2027. The airport handled 800,000 passengers last year, during which it was also upgraded.
“The ministry believes there is no immediate need to upgrade Sandakan Airport since the current capacity and the upgraded facilities can handle future passenger needs and flight operations,” said Loke.
Answering a separate question from Chow Kon Yeow (PH-Batu Kawan) on the sources of capital for the planned Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion, Loke said MAHB was still evaluating the matter.
He told Chow, who is also the Penang chief minister, that MAHB will first determine the cost, funding sources, and investment mechanisms before presenting a financing mechanism to the government.
Loke said the initial phase of the airport’s expansion involves increasing the terminal’s capacity from 6.5 million passengers per year to 12 million passengers. The project is expected to take 48 months and is set to start next September.
“The government has approved RM93 million under the 12MP for land acquisition and infrastructure development to support the expansion,” said Loke, adding that the ministry was currently conducting land acquisition work.
Loke also said MAHB has addressed the flooding at the airport’s terminal by building a pump system and underground tanks, which were already fully operational.