Federal Govt looking to expedite airport expansion project in Penang, says PM


Carnival

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The Federal Government will look to expedite the Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project in Penang, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said with Penang becoming a top world destination, there was an urgent need to speed up the project.

"Earlier, I asked the Transport Ministry about the LRT, but there's an urgent matter regarding the overwhelming success of tourism and the congestion at PIA.

"The government agrees to expand it, but it requires further study and discussion," he said in his speech during the Penang Development Entrepreneurship and The Strengthening of Relationship Carnival at Seberang Prai Polytechnic here on Friday (Feb 16).

Anwar said the project might be initiated by the end of the year, however he said by next Wednesday (Feb 21), during the cabinet meeting he would ask for a report of the project so that he can know whether it is possible to speed up the project.

He said if possible, the government needed to accelerate funding for the project to take off.

The expansion of PIA would increase the terminal’s annual handling capacity from 6.5 million passengers to 12 million.

Last year, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, in his written reply in Parliament to Batu Kawan MP Chow Kon Yeow, said that the government had granted approval for an allocation of RM93mil to facilitate land acquisition and infrastructure for the PIA expansion.

The 88-year-old airport has undergone several infrastructure expansions over the years, with the first from 1977 to 1979 giving it an annual capacity of 1.5 million passengers.

The airport was expanded and upgraded in 1998 to accommodate 3.5 million passengers.

In 2013, its capacity was increased to 6.5 million passengers.

Travel growth surged and by 2019, the airport was handling 8.3 million passengers yearly, leading to overcrowding and numerous calls for another upgrade.

Anwar during the officiating speech also said it was important for the new generation to master the digital transformation in the country.

"The people must be together with us in this swift and strong current of change hence it is important that they must quickly master the knowledge in the new fields or otherwise we will be left behind," he said.

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