Many friends know my position about Penang’s current international airport. I feel it needs a bigger more holistic plan and that includes moving out of Bayan Lepas for which it has limited expansion capacity to a new site. Most likely in the mainland. Maybe Batu Kawan. Recently, there has been a proposal for another international airport for the northern region, in Kulim Kedah. To anyone who has been to Kulim High Tech Park, there are lots of manufacturing plants there and thus an airport is definitely a good idea. However, Kulim is just 25 minutes away from Penang Bridge. Trust me, I drive there every weekend for 2 years plus during my Master programme. Thus, if the funds are limited, I would definitely propose for Penang’s international airport to be expanded beyond its current capacity. Double it with rooms for further expansion.
Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng said that he would be bringing up the matter with Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar who currently heads the Economic Planning Unit. I hope this is done quickly before any further plans are planned. He said he is not opposing the Kulim International airport as long as it is not a threat to Penang International Airport. Based on the fact that Penang International Aiport is not full yet and is estimated to only be up to full capacity by 2017, there is actually no threat for few more years. If Kulim international airport is built and can be completed in 3 years, then there would be no threat at all to Penang until 2020! Objectively, the focus should not be which is a threat to another but more on how to best focus limited resources on unlimited wants.
If the plans are only to expand Penang international airport, then I think it may be wiser to have a longer vision. Just as Penang International Airport has been supporting Kulim Hi-Tech Park all these while, it can also be argued vice-versa as well. Many years ago, everyone was opposed to KLIA and said should expand Subang airport instead. Can you imagine what would have happened without KLIA? Now some say KLIA2 is way too big. I just smile. No one should build an airport to serve the current market or even to serve just the potential expansion for next few years. The airport should be built for a much longer regional vision in mind, with sufficient expansion as and when needed. Think objectively. I do not support just the usual expansion. I wish for a really integrated master plan for the northern region’s largest and most modern international airport.
written on 14 Aug 2014
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