SEPANG: Malaysia’s aviation industry is set to soar with improved air traffic control facilities, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Najib said the new RM650mil Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control Centre (KL ATCC) – shaped like a soaring ‘wau bulan’ or the traditional Kelantanese “moon kite”– would be a major milestone for the industry.
When completed in 2019, the KL ATCC would start the restructuring of the Kuala Lumpur airspace, better known as the Kuala Lumpur Flight Information Region (FIR KL), he said.
“The restructuring of the FIR KL airspace would allow the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to operate three runways simultaneously, making it the only airport in the region with such capability,” said Najib, at the centre’s ground breaking ceremony here.
He pointed out the simultaneous operation would improve the airport’s capacity to handle 108 aircraft movements per hour compared to 78 now, making it one of the highest in the world.
“If the air traffic growth stays steady at 4.5% a year, the new airspace structure can help the aviation industry remain sustainable for the next 20 years,” he said.
Najib said the advance air traffic control infrastructure would boost efforts to make Malaysia a global aviation hub in the Asia-Pacific region.
He said the transformation of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) into the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) would ensure the industry meets standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Najib also urged air traffic controllers not to compromise on safety and to provide efficient service.
“This job demands your top commitment and dedication. It is of utmost importance,” he said.
Present at the ceremony were Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi and Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.
At a press conference later, Liow said the increase in KLIA’s runway capacity would allow more airlines to get “premium slots” to fly in and out of the airport.
These premium slots – from about 10am until noon and from 6pm to 8pm are in demand by airlines compared to midnight or early morning arrivals or departures.
Liow said at present only two airports in the region – Beijing and Shanghai, in China – operate three runways simultaneously.