SEPANG: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dreams of a space port where Malaysians can fly to London in three hours in the future as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) turns 21 years old Tuesday (Aug 13).
The Prime Minister said he was heartened by what KLIA has achieved so far, adding that KLIA was currently the 12th busiest international airport in the world.
"Who knows, (in future) we may be travelling in three hours to London?" said Dr Mahathir when asked what his dream for KLIA in the future was.
"In the context of human birthdays, 21 would be deemed to be the coming of age, but for KLIA, it is a testament of its sustainability and relevance.
"As an idea, it started off in the 1980s when we started facing problems with the Subang International Airport which, with its one runway, was bursting at the seams.
Subang Airport then was only operating with one runway with no room for expansion.
"It is amazing to witness the palm oil estate morphing into an airport of such beauty and ability to become an icon. It is an architectural wonder.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who made this idea or vision a reality, " said Dr Mahathir.
He also paid tribute to Kisho Kurokawa, the Japanese architect, behind the “Airport in the Forest, Forest in the Airport” concept.
"The total capacity of KLIA has been increased from its original 25 million to the current 75 million passengers per annum with the addition of a second terminal called KLIA2, which alone, has the capacity to handle 45 million passengers a year, " said Dr Mahathir.
KLIA, with its two terminals, was now connected to over a thousand destinations and as of 2018, had had 80 million passengers, said the Prime Minister while gracing the anniversary celebrations of KLIA here on Aug 13.
Dr Mahathir also praised the digital transformation of KLIA towards Airports 4.0 that encompassed advanced technologies such as facial recognition, Big Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT).
He said that the government was committed to promoting KLIA as the main doorway of tourism and equally committed to ensuring the growth of the aviation industry.
KLIA celebrated 21 years as the country’s leading gateway this year with the theme "KLIA Turns 21: A Precious Legacy".
The event was also attended by Transport Minister Loke, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) chairman Tan Sri Zainun Ali, and MAHB Group chief executive officer (GCEO) Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin.