THERE’S no two ways about it. Perak needs a spanking new and larger airport, say members of the public.
Those interviewed by MetroPerak say they feel that a new airport will certainly open up more business opportunities to boost the state’s economy, especially for the tourism sector.
They also feel that the state has a wide range of tourism products, including the Royal Belum Rainforest, Gua Tempurung, Kellie’s Castle, Pulau Pangkor and other popular heritage and local food offerings, that can be proudly promoted to tourists.
Perak Tourism Association President Mohd Odzman Abdul Kadir said the state is in “dire” need for a new airport.
“The Sultan Azlan Shah Airport has its shortcomings. The most obvious being the fact is that it cannot accommodate larger aeroplanes due to its runway.
“There’s no point in promoting our state to China if aeroplanes can’t land here. Even chartered flights also can’t do so,” he said.
“It also defeats the purpose if visitors have to disembark elsewhere before coming to Perak,” he added.
Mohd Odzman said it does not matter where the new airport is built as long as it has good connectivity.
“It should of course be a suitable area and t must be accessible, which is important.
“I remember people used to say that the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was far away, but with good connectivity, people don’t mind going there now ,” he said.
Mohd Odzman said the current airport is holding the state’s tourism industry back due to its shortcomings.
“Perak should have its own international airport as it would greatly boost the tourism industry in the state.
“We are actually ready to receive international tourists with our offerings and activities,” he said.
“I am sure those in the tourism industry would fully support a new airport,” he added.
MetroPerak previously reported that the Perak government is pushing for a new airport to be built.
Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir was quoted as saying that the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh can no longer be expanded due to limited land and the state government has been in discussions with the Economic Planning Unit about the possibility of a new airport.
The airport in Ipoh is also not without other issues as there have been two incidents of sinkholes appearing in its runway. One appeared earlier this month while another occurred in 2013.
The airport was refurbished between April 2011 and 2012. This included the extension of the 1,789m-long runway by another 200m to accommodate larger aircraft.
Secretary S. Malar, 38, also feels that a new airport would open up Perak to the rest of the world.
“I hope the state government can make it a reality. I think we can imagine being able to fly straight from Perak to other parts of the world and bringing other countries closer,” she said.
“I do feel that we have been trapped between Penang and Selangor for a long time, the mentality being that there’s always more to do in the other two states. I think it’s time for Perak to shine and become one of the big players,” she added.
Malar said having a new airport would also open up more job opportunities, providing fresh graduates an avenue into the aviation sector.
“I think there are a lot of professions to choose from, like being a stewardess, pilot or engineer, and even working as a front-liners at the counters or shops.
“I think a new airport would also boost development in surrounding areas. More shops, hotels or restaurants would likely be set up as there would be more people, be it workers or visitors,” she said.
A businessman, who only wanted to be known as Jacky, said having an airport would not only benefit the tourism industry, but also make it easier for locals to expand their networking globally.
The 40-year-old said travelling would be more convenient as they need not travel to KLIA or to Penang for business trips to countries outside of South-East Asia.
“I think we can cut short travelling time by a considerable amount, depending where any new airport might be located.
“I think the cost for shipping local products to other countries could also be cut down,” he said.
“Time is always crucial for businesses,” he added.