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On-Hold. Penang International Airport’s expansion to handle 12 million passengers.

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In 2019, Penang International Airport (PIA) handled 8.53 million. This was way above the designed capacity for PIA which is 6.5 million per year. It was supposed to undergo an expansion project in 2020 so that it could handle 12 million passengers when it is completed in 2024. This was also announced in the Budget 2020 by then Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. Due to the COVID-19, the number of passengers in PIA has dropped to just 170,000 as at June.

Article in malaymail.com transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said that 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. He said that the NASP was needed as tourism and aviation were among sectors most affected in the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also shared that the NASP study is needed because the study was to streamline the development of all 42 airports in the country. He said, “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.” Do read the full article here. Article in malaymail.com

I guess it will really take some time for tourism to really roar back into those same passenger numbers in 2019. In fact we are seeing that the countries which have seemingly been successful with COVID-19 control has seen their numbers increase and this do look scary. Vaccines from Russia is said to be in production but this not yet been approved by World Health Organisation (WHO). Thus, it is unlikely that we will suddenly recover from COVID-19.

Positive point is that within this year, a few more vaccines are likely to be approved. They will come from many countries including the U.S., Britain, Germany and closer to us would be China. At least we would have more choices and hopefully the production of these could ensure supply is enough as soon as it could start. We will just have to watch how all these unfolds because it holds the key to the tourism recovery and with it the need for any airport expansion to be considered again critically.

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