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Penang international airport expansion and full capacity in 2017

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
Next suggested article: Klia2, Airasia, airport towns

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0 Responses

  1. Hi Chialih,
    Thanks for your sharing with this article, it is true that, longer vision plan is needed to cater to holistic master plan according to economic factor as whole, however, what is the benefit if existing airport is migrated to Batu kawan? what would be the implication or consequence if decision is made, those questions need to be clarified for next course of decision, it is very critical to have the appropriate to ensure our economic is sustained, besides, is it practical for business activity or tourist travel from Island toward batu kawan for airport everytime? ultimately, it is important to evaluate the position and strategy of Penang, what is going to be for next 10 -20 years instead of just considering its space land factor only. on my opinion, airport should be integrated with core business area with vital activity which could bring revenue for state/country from business perspective. otherwise, it serves no purpose of having the migration taken place. let’s think of Singapore.. or Hong kong. the space factor should be considered as secondary priority. my 2cents

    1. Infrastructure first, then use it for expansion. It is not possible to only build infrastructure after the whole area is matured. Imagine the cost of Batu kawan land in 2020. KLIA was also built in the middle of nowhere. So was Incheon, so was Chek lap kok which was also built away from city centre. As for Singapore terminal 4 is being built but changi airport is different from a regional and international airport as that proposed by Penang CM. You do not need to fly from jurong to hougang or yishun to ang mo kio.

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Charles Tan The Founder The Writer Kopiandproperty
Charles Tan

Charles is Founder of He writes from his investment experience for the the past 20 years in investments including property, stock, unit trust and more as well as readings and conversations with many property gurus in the industry. is an independent property blog which is not affiliated to any media company, property developer or even real estate agencies.


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