GEORGE TOWN: The Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project will be completed before the construction of the Kulim International Airport (KXP) project takes off.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the PIA expansion project, undertaken through private finance initiative (PFI), would be opened for tender by the end of this year.
“Of course the PIA will be faster because the (feasibility) studies were done much earlier. We hope to call for tender this year.
“There has been expression of interest from many parties who wish to invest because they see the potential (of PIA), which now sees eight million passengers movement per year.
“We are not starting from ground zero,” he told reporters after officiating the groundbreaking ceremony for Aemulus Corporation Sdn Bhd’s new plant at Bayan Lepas, here, today.
Lim was commenting on Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s statement that feasibility studies must be carried out first for the KXP, to see if it was feasible, sustainable and necessary as well as its impact on Penang.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali had announced that the Federal Government had approved KXP's construction in Kedah at a cost of RM1.6 billion, a mere 40 minutes away from PIA.
Previously, Lim announced that the RM1.2 billion expansion project for PIA, which would increase the airport capacity to 16 million passenger per year.
PIA recorded 7.78 million passengers movement last year.
Lim said feasibility studies must be carried out for all airport projects, as it was the usual practise.
“As far as the feasibility studies (for PIA) is concerned, it is quite advance because the airport has already exceeded (the passenger movement) capacity for some time,” he added.
Lim reiterated that both the PIA expansion and KXP projects would be carried out using PFI because the government was short of funds.
“Both airport projects have been approved but with the condition that the state must find their own funding from private sector,” he said.
On whether there has been any interest from the private sector with regards to the KXP, Lim said there was expression of interest, otherwise Kedah would not put the proposal forward.
However, he said, it has yet to be seen whether the expression of interest would translate into a concrete investment proposal.
“Whether it would translate into something that we can see with money coming in...I think this is still at a very early stage.
“That we have to wait until it is finalised,” he said.
Lim stressed that his ministry had no objections to the KXP if it was financed by the private sector.
“For the Finance Ministry, we are more concerned with funding because of financial constraints,” he added.
Asked on whether Penang’s investment and economy would be affected by the new airport, Lim said it was unlikely.
“When you had the Kulim Hi-Tech Park, did all the industry (players) move to the Kulim Hi-Tech Park?
“I think you must look at the market position and Penang has its own attractiveness and competitive advantages.
“We have always been able to compete and I think it should be looked at in that light,” he added.