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GEORGE TOWN: The Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas, already bursting beyond its capacity, is expected to undergo much-needed expansion following the nod given to Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) from the local authorities.

MAHB received planning permission and early work commencement approvals from local authorities for the airport expansion project, estimated to cost between RM800mil and RM900mil.

Construction work is scheduled to start in March, and is expected to be completed within 36 months.

Announcement on the expansion project is expected to be made by the Penang state government or airport authorities soon.

The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) recently gave its greenlight on Dec 4, and it is expected to approve the building plans next month.

When contacted, a spokesman for MAHB confirmed that the masterplan has been approved by the MBPP.

“However, we are still waiting for the official letter from them.

“Announcement will be made by top management when the official letter is received, ” he said.

It is learnt that MAHB is expected to offer the tender for construction jobs in January.

The expansion will increase the terminal gross floor area to 113,005 sq m from 54,582 sq m.

The new design will have the capacity to accommodate 12 million passengers per annum while the two-way passenger peak hour capacity will increase to 4,391 from 2,553 currently.

The expanded airport will be able to accommodate 25 commercial aircraft.

The Air Traffic Control Tower, Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, Meteorological Station, the Airport Fire Rescue Service station and aviation apron will be relocated to the new terminal.

The number of parking bays will be increased to 1,800 bays from 1,218 presently.

The catering complex and MASKargo Complex will remain at the existing terminal.

In July, MAHB chief executive officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said it is ready to proceed with its plan to expand the Penang International Airport after getting approval from the Ministry of Finance.

He had said MAHB has been working on the expansion project over the past two years, bringing in consultants to draw up detailed construction plans after engaging with the Ministry of Transport (MoT), Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), the Penang state government and Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Raja Azmi had also said the plans were ready for submission in July for planning from the MBPP after necessary clearance from Mavcom, MoT and the Department of Director-General of Lands and Mines (Federal) as the landowner, ” he said.

MAHB had said it was discussing with various parties on the options for investment and funding models.

The airport operator said it had submitted an application to fully fund the project under the proposed Mavcom Regulated Asset Base (RAB) framework and was waiting for approval.

Once the necessary plans have been approved by the MBPP, construction should begin in the first quarter of next year, the MAHB had said.

Meanwhile, Penang Freight Forwarders Association (PFFA) honorary secretary-general Ali Ahmad said the airport authorities should consider integrating the Second Cargo Complex in Batu Maung and the MASkargo Complex in Bayan Lepas.

“The two cargo complexes, separated by the runway, has caused inconvenience to freight forwarders.

“Freight forwarders now incur additional charges such as the cost of transferring cargo from one terminal to another, ” he said.

Ali added that the airport and local authorities should explore linking the proposed LRT system with the cargo complexes to reduce the traffic at the cargo complexes.

Source: The Star

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