GEORGE TOWN: Penang will highlight its concerns over the proposed Kulim International Airport (KXP) project at a tripartite meeting between the state, Kedah and the Transport Ministry soon.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who announced this today, said he was still waiting for a date for the said meeting.
He said during the Menteri Besar and Chief Ministers’ meeting on Feb 26, it was agreed that a tripartite meeting between Penang, Kedah and the Transport Ministry be convened to discuss the KXP construction further.
He said he had raised Penang’s concerns during the meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“The meeting took note that KXP project will have a negative impact on Penang International Airport (PIA).
“It also took note of the fact that PIA had exceeded its capacity and needed to be upgraded.
“The meeting also agreed that the Transport Ministry hold a discussion on Penang’s concerns. So, I am still waiting for the date of the meeting,” he told a press conference at his office, here, today.
He was responding to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement to newsmen earlier that his ministry had no reasons to object to the KXP project as it would not involve public funds.
Lim also said that the previous Barisan Nasional-led Federal administration has never approved the expansion of the PIA.
“It was only under this government that the expansion plan was approved,” Lim had said.
PIA has been operating above its 6.5 million passenger movement per year capacity for the past one year.
The state government had been asking the Federal administration for funding to expand the airport which was registering more than seven million passenger movement per year.
Lim said there was a funding constraint for the government to foot the bill for the PIA expansion project, which would cost more than RM1 billion.
“The original proposal was to increase the capacity to 12 million passenger movement per year, but we feel 12 million is too small, so we plan to increase to 16 million and if possible by 20 million so that PIA can cope until 2035.
“We are proceeding with the plans to see how to carry this out, but based on the technical specifications, we can increase capacity to 20 million with the existing land.
Lim said there was no need for PIA to shut down, once it has been expanded.
“We understand the concerns but there is no possibility of the airport being closed so don’t dwell on it.” he added.