Don't politicise Kedah Aerotropolis issue, says Transport Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Issues surrounding the construction of a new aviation hub dubbed the Kedah Aerotropolis should not be politicised, says Anthony Loke.

The Transport Minister said there had been no official application to build the Kedah Aerotropolis submitted to his ministry yet.

"We are consistent about this and I hope this issue won't be politicised by the Kedah Mentri Besar," he said during Question Time in Parliament on Monday (March 20).

Loke said the ministry wanted to facilitate the construction of the proposed Kedah Aerotropolis, subject to findings of the National Airport Strategic Plan (NASP).

"The ministry has no issues approving the project if it is in line with the NASP report and if they have the ability (to operate the airport)," he added.

Loke urged the Kedah government to list the investors and proposed operators for the project.

"Aerodrome licences require approval from the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM). We need to know who the operator is," he added.

According to Loke, there were only two airport operators in the country, with Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) operating most of the airports, and another company operating Johor's Senai airport.

"There are no operators aside from these two companies, so we need to know who will operate KXP (Kulim International Airport)," said Loke.

KXP was rebranded as the Kedah Aerotropolis in 2021.

Meanwhile, Loke said the Kedah government had only sent a letter dated Jan 3 to the Transport Ministry seeking approval for the construction of the Kedah Aerotropolis to be given an exemption while the NASP study is ongoing

"In this regard, the developer KXP Airportcity Holdings Sdn Bhd has forwarded the preliminary development plan that contains commercial and technical reports on Jan 18.

"After the preliminary plan was finalised, there weren't any formal applications made by the Kedah government regarding KXP," he added.

Loke was responding to Datuk Azman Nasrudin (PN-Padang Serai), who questioned the government's role in ensuring that the Kedah Aerotropolis project would continue.

Jamaluddin Yahya (PN-Pasir Salak) then asked if there were plans by the Transport Ministry to ensure syariah-compliant SOPs in flights.

However, Loke pointed out that the question was off topic.

"It is up to the (individual) airline on (whether or not to have) syariah-compliant SOPs," he said briefly.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor also reminded MPs not to ask questions that were not related to issues raised during Question Time.

"If the question is unrelated, I will allow the minister not to answer it.

"Please take note, especially MPs who are new and also old in the House," Ramli added.

Previously, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to consider the state's plans to develop the Kedah Aerotropolis.

Muhammad Sanusi's remarks came after the tabling of Budget 2023 last month.

When tabling the revised Budget on Feb 24, Anwar announced the expansion of the Penang International Airport and Subang airport.

He said both projects are expected to translate to economic benefits with lower costs, compared to the estimated RM7bil to build a new airport in Kulim, Kedah.

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