THE Penang government has made many representations, before the Covid-19 crisis took place, to push for the expansion of the Penang International Airport (PIA).
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the project had been approved, with the Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) committing to the upgrade.
The proposed expansion had also obtained the planning permission from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).
“We were told that the next step is to call for a tender to implement the project. However, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is believed that the crisis has impacted the (progress of the) project.
“The Penang government receives a monthly report from MAHB pertaining to the project. We have also sought information from MAHB with regard to the project, during the Covid-19 crisis period.
“We understand that the Federal Government, specifically the Transport Ministry, is now conducting a review before making any decision (on development of airports and short take-off landing airports in the country).
“We will have to wait for the review to be completed, and for the ministry to make a decision on when to begin the upgrading project,” Chow told a press conference in Komtar today.
It was reported that any proposal for a new airport development, including for the upgrading and expansion of the PIA, would only be considered after the National Airports Strategic Plan (NASP) study has been finalised. It was also reported that the study is scheduled to be completed in 2023, in line with the National Transport Policy.
Chow said the state believed that the project should be continued if the Covid-19 crisis could be subdued in the shortest time possible, and if the passenger volume can reach the numbers that the airport achieved prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The airport expansion project should continue to cater to the future needs of the people,” he said.
Chow said that the PIA was one of the few ‘profitable’ airports in Malaysia that are managed by MAHB.
“Many areas, including civil aviation, are impacted by the pandemic. The number of passengers has reduced tremendously.
“MAHB, as the project proponent for the PIA expansion project, could face an enormous challenge of getting the financial resources to carry out the project with profitable airports not having a revenue for a few months.
“Now may be the best time to carry out construction works for the PIA because there are less passenger arrivals; however, it may not be the best time financially to do so,” he added.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis
Video by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi