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Friday March 5, 2010

High hopes for Senai airport

SATS CEO also wants to venture into non-aviation services

zaza@thestar.com.my

JOHOR BARU: Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd (SATS) wants to position and develop the Senai International Airport as one of the leading multi-modal airports in the region.

Chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Sidik Shaik Osman said the airport would not only provide aviation-related activities but also venture into non-aviation services.

“Airports the world over have evolved over the years and many of them have diversified into non-core activities to improve their earnings,” he said in an interview with StarBiz.

Mohd Sidik... Airports the world over have evolved and diversified into non-core activities to improve their earnings.

Sidik said SATS’ multi-billion ringgit Senai Aviation & Airport City, a mixed development project to be developed over 10 years, would be the growth engine for the airport and the Senai area.

Sited on 1,133ha beside the airport, its residential, hospitality and commercial components cover 323.74ha while an air cargo logistics centre and a high-tech park occupy 404.68ha each.

The entire development is undertaken by SATS’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Enigma Harmoni Sdn Bhd, and SATS subsidiary Senai Hi-Tech Park Sdn Bhd (SHTP) will operate the park.

The Senai park is Malaysia’s second high technology industrial park after Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP) in Kedah and the former is helmed by the former KHTP chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Shukri Tajudin. It is probably the first integrated hi-tech park in the world connected to the airport while similar parks like those in Dubai and Frankfurt are located a distance from the airport.

To date, SHTP has received RM1.7bil investment from China-based EQ Solar Technology International Sdn Bhd to produce solar modules and RM60mil from MOX-Linde Gases Sdn Bhd, an industrial gas provider.

SHTP’s target investments are in the avionics/aeronautics industry, information technology and communications technology, including integrated circuit design, high-tech manufacturing, among others.

Opened in 1974, the Senai airport is the only one in Malaysia managed by private company SATS which took over the operations from Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd in 2003. The company is closely linked to billionaire Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, who controls MMC Corp Bhd, which has interests in the Senai airport, the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) and Johor Port.

“When we first took over the airport, we wanted to build up the air passenger and the air cargo businesses. Years later we realised that we should also venture into the non-aviation activities,” Sidik stressed.

He said the airport’s location in the Senai-Kulai zone within Iskandar Malaysia augured well for its growth as the zone would be developed into an integrated logistic hub.

Senai-Kulai is one of the five flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia.

Sidik said economic activities in the Senai area, comprising the electrical and electronic, high-value food products, agro-products and engineering industries, required warehousing and logistic facilities, land, sea and air transportation.

He said apart from catering to the needs of the industries, Senai Aviation & Airport City would also comprise residential, commercial and hospitality sectors.

Work on the hospitality precinct fronting the airport on a 4ha site with two hotel blocks, a convention centre, offices and factory outlets with RM200mil investment will start this year.

Next to it is the RM200mil regional wholesale centre on an 8ha site – a joint-venture project between SATS and the Wenzhou Association of China – to attract buyers from countries in the region.

The RM93mil Aeromall will open in the second quarter of the year. “We want to capitalise on our inter-related parties and interests in the Senai Airport, PTP and Johor Port for the success of Senai Aviation & Airport City,” said Sidik.

However, he said government support was much needed to ensure its success and one vital aspect that the company would like to see would be a review of the country’s present-day aviation policies.

“Unlike at PTP where we negotiate directly with shipping lines, here (at SATS) it is still government-to-government when it comes to landing rights,” said Sidik, who is also PTP chairman.

“We want to capitalise on our inter-related parties and interests in the Senai Airport, PTP and Johor Port for the success of Senai Aviation & Airport City,” said Sidik.

However, he said government support was much needed to ensure its success and one vital aspect would be a review of current aviation policies.

“Unlike at PTP where we negotiate directly with shipping lines, here (at SATS) it is still government-to-government when it comes to landing rights,” said Sidik, who is also PTP chairman.

with two hotel blocks, a conven

fronting the airport on a 4ha site

tion centre, offices and factory outlets with RM200mil investment will start this year.

Next to it is the RM200mil regional wholesale centre on an 8ha site – a joint-venture project between SATS and the Wenzhou Association of China – to attract buyers from countries in the region.

The RM93mil Aeromall will open in the second quarter of the year and the extension of the airport’s present retail and the new mall will increase the current retail area from 2,601.28 sq ft to 7,745.78 sq ft with 25 retail outlets.

Also in the pipeline are the 2.42ha Food Village offering Johor signature dishes, Asian-style street and fusion food in a gazebo-style sitting and a mini-theme park incorporating water features, slides and rock climbing.

“We want to capitalise on our inter-related parties and interests in the Senai Airport, PTP and Johor Port for the success of Senai Aviation & Airport City,” said Sidik.

However, he said, government support was much needed to ensure its success and one vital aspect that the company would like to see would be a review of the country’s present-day aviation policies.

“Unlike at PTP where we negotiate directly with shipping lines, here (at SATS) it is still government-to-government when it comes to landing rights,” said Sidik, who is also PTP chairman.

Presently, airlines operating at the airport include Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Firefly and MASkargo and Qatar Airways Cargo that provide cargo services.

The Senai airport can handle 4.5 million passengers and 100,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

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