GEORGE TOWN: A five-storey parking complex is needed to ease traffic congestion at the Penang International Airport (PIA), said Koperasi Pemandu Limo Lapangan Terbang Pulau Pinang Terbang Bhd (Koplimo) taxi marshall Kalai Selvan.
The 51-year-old, who has worked at the airport for 13 years, said the existing parking space in front of the terminal gets full during peak hours, with incoming vehicles getting caught in a traffic bottleneck at the airport entrance.
“The number of flights and passengers have increased over the years, and vehicles are sometimes caught in a queue for up to 30 minutes at the airport entrance leading to the terminal.
“Traffic build-up at the terminal is also due to errant drivers who park their vehicles illegally while waiting for passengers.
“We need a major expansion of parking space, perhaps a five-storey complex so that those who wait for passengers have a proper place to park their vehicles,” he said.
It was recently reported that the proposed low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) might not take place as the Federal Government is looking into expanding the PIA instead.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke had reportedly said that discussions on PIA’s expansion were in the final stage, but no approval had been given for an LCCT in Penang.
Kalai also urged Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and the state to look into ensuring that drivers of ride-hailing services wait for passengers outside the airport.
“A lot of them drive straight towards the terminal’s entrance to wait for customers. This contributes to traffic jams and blocks vehicles from the entrance,” he said.
Taxi driver Azhan Ramli, 31, said they would usually need to wait in line for up to an hour during peak hours to get to their passengers.
“The lack of enforcement is the reason many cars clog up the area outside the terminal,” he said.
Shop operators and tourists welcomed the airport expansion.
Colours and Fragrances beauty consultant Jenny Ong, 46, said the store would see more customers with the airport expansion.
“Most of our customers buy gifts. We provide sealed bags for their purchases to bypass the restriction on the amount of liquid that can be brought onboard,” she said.
Technician Tarmidzi Timothy Paul and his wife Adelin Mohd Adenan, both 37, said they looked forward to more flight check-in counters and shorter queues that are expected to come with the airport expansion.
But for musician Rasyidi Bakar, 29, smaller terminals bring people closer.
“Bigger terminals result in less people appreciating my performance as they tend to be occupied with looking out for places to eat or shop in the midst of the big space.
“A smaller terminal may ease navigation and people usually take notice of my performance as they wait to board their flights,” he said.
The present PIA is the country’s oldest airport, having been built in 1935 when Penang was part of the British-ruled Straits Settlement.
It underwent a major upgrade in 1979 to accommodate Boeing 747s, then the largest planes in the world.
The terminal saw two significant facelifts in 2009 and 2013.