KUANTAN: The extension of the runway at the airport on Tioman Island will bring in more tourists to the island.
This will increase the income of local residents, said Pahang unity, tourism and culture committee chairman Leong Yu Man.
She said the current 850m runway at the airport at Kampung Tekek could only accommodate aircraft with a load of a dozen passengers.
“The runway extension project will allow larger aircraft, such as the ATR, which can carry 72 passengers, to land on Tioman Island.
“It will also allow unlimited access for the aircraft to fly in as during the monsoon, the ferry service is disrupted,” she said.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, when tabling the 2024 budget on Friday, announced an allocation of RM47 million to improve passenger facilities at the Tioman airport terminal and extend the runway to 1,300m.
Tioman Development Authority general manager Idros Yahya said the extension of the runway could increase the number of flights to the island as there are many airlines that use the ATR 72 aircraft.
Currently, he said, there were four flights a week to Tioman Island departing from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor.
“A plane with a larger capacity allows us to target the presence of tourists from more places, including Singapore or Batam, Indonesia, in addition to domestic flights such as from Penang and Kota Bharu,” he said.
Idros said extending the runway would also minimise the environmental impact, compared to building a new airport.
The airport has been in use since the 1980s.
A tourism operator on the island, Hadzeri Hamzah, 42, said the runway extension would allow aircraft to fly into the island all year round, hence generating more income for residents.
“Our income depends on tourists. If there are fewer tourists, there is less income.
“In November and December, there are fewer tourists as ferries cannot operate because of the rough seas, but with the extension of the runway, we can have more planes flying in,” he said.
In 2018, there was a proposal to build the Tioman international airport at Kampung Genting.
However, last August, natural resources, environment and climate change minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad was reported to have said the government would not proceed with the project because it involved land reclamation.