KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 ― The Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project announced in Budget 2020 has been stopped pending the National Airport Strategic Plan (NASP) study due for completion in 2023, said Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong.
The transport minister said in Parliament that the NASP was needed as tourism and aviation were among sectors most affected in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the study would determine how best to respond in terms of airport development.
“As of it, any new development or planning for airports, including development proposals and upgrading of Penang International Airport will be finalised after the NASP study is done,” he told Dewan Rakyat today.
Wee was responding to RSN Rayer (Jelutong ― PH) who asked whether the government will proceed with the PIA expansion that the finance minister at the time, Lim Guan Eng, announced when tabling the Budget last year.
Rayer urged Wee to state the government’s commitment to the project and not to punish the state simply because it was governed by Pakatan Harapan.
The minister said the government was not victimising any state for its political affiliations and explained that the study was necessary to streamline the development of all 42 airports in the country.
“The PIA capacity was designed for 6.5 million passengers per year and we found that in 2019, there were 8.53 million passengers. But in 2020, because of the pandemic, until June the passenger numbers fell to only 168,960.
“For House’ knowledge, the Kedah state government has also planned to build a new airport.
“We have 39 airports under MAHB (Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad) and 3 privately operated. Altogether 42 airports and they needed standardisation and good coordination.
“I will guarantee that the government will be committed,” he said.
The PIA expansion project had been scheduled to kick off in June this year and be completed by 2024.
The new design was meant to accommodate 12 million passengers annually, up from 6.5 million in the middle of last year, and increase aircraft parking bays from 13 to 21.