More studies before Kedah Aerotropolis project can fly

VARIOUS studies and technical inputs are still required before the final approval for the proposed Kedah Aerotropolis project, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The former transport minister said that in 2021, the National Physical Planning Council agreed in principle with the Kulim Inter-national Airport (KXP) proposal, which consists of an airport and a sizeable area for industrial activity.

However, he said final approval was still subject to studies, technical input and feasibility forecasts of cargo and passenger load factors.

“At the same time, the National Airport Strategic Plan (NASP) is still being implemented by the Transport Ministry beginning last year on all 42 airports and STOLports (short take-off and landing) across the country to determine capacity, needs and allocation of air space.

“Under the approvals of all the ministries involved, the project proponent will then be allowed to submit its application for the Aerodrome Operator’s Licence (AOL) to the Transport Minister,” he said in a Facebook post yesterday.

“At this point, the project proponent has yet to fulfil the conditions of the National Physical Planning Council (for approval),” he said, adding that under the Civil Aviation Act 1969, a project proponent must apply for an AOL before an airport can be granted operational status.

Dr Wee was responding to a reply by Transport Minister Anthony Loke in Parliament, who had said that the proposed Kedah Aero-tropolis has yet to submit any application for an AOL.

Earlier yesterday during Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat, Loke said the Transport Ministry had no issues approving the project if it was in line with the NASP report and if the project proponent had the ability to operate the airport.

He urged the Kedah state government to bring forth its investors and proposed operators of the Kedah Aerotropolis.

“To acquire aerodrome licences, it requires approval from the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).

“We need to know who the operator is,” said Loke.

He added that virtually all of the airports in the country are operated by Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd, with the sole exception being Johor’s Senai airport.

“There aren’t any operators aside from these two companies, so we need to know who will operate Kulim International Airport.”

He added that Kedah 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 was ongoing.

“In this regard, KXP Airportcity Holdings Sdn Bhd, who’s the developer, forwarded the preliminary Kedah Aerotropolis 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 state government regarding the development,” said Loke in response to Datuk Azman Nasrudin (PN-Padang Serai), who had questioned the government’s role in ensuring that the Kedah Aero-tropolis project was continued.

Loke said he also hoped the issues concerning the proposed Kedah Aerotropolis would not be sensationalised.

“We are consistent about this and I hope this issue won’t be politicised by the Kedah Mentri Besar,” he added.

Previously, following the tabling of Budget 2023 last month, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor had urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to consider the state’s plans to develop Kedah Aerotropolis.

During the tabling of Budget 2023, Anwar had announced the expansion of Penang International Airport and Subang Airport.

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

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