No go-ahead yet for Kulim airport, says Wee

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PETALING JAYA: Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong says Putrajaya’s approval for the proposal to build the RM6.8 billion Kulim International Airport (KXP) is only “in principle”.

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He said the approval given by the National Physical Planning Council (MPFN) is subject to further considerations by the ministry and other agencies, including the finance and home ministries and Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).

“The proposal for KXP is also subject to the findings of the National Airports Strategic Plan (NASP), which will commence in early 2021 for all 42 existing airports in the country and those in the proposal stage,” he said in a statement today.

Wee said the KXP project owner will then be required to provide information to the NASP on projections regarding passenger and cargo service demands and airlines that have committed to the airport.

He said the KXP proposal aims to complement passenger and cargo handling currently provided by the Penang International Airport (PEN), adding that it would be prudent to review the Kulim project as the Penang airport nears maximum capacity.

“Therefore, the passenger and cargo demands must be based on robust and reliable facts and data which takes into account PEN’s maximum capacity and the viability of the KXP project.”

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Wee said the final approval for KXP will only be given once the NASP study is concluded and in adherence to all pre-conditions set by the relevant agencies.

“The ministry welcomes all proposals from both state governments and the private sector to build airports. However, the ministry is duty-bound to ensure that these projects are viable, sustainable and fulfil all technical requirements established by CAAM and the Malaysian Aviation Commission,” he said.

Previously, Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Nor said the state had received approval from the National Physical Planning Council to build the airport and had since asked Putrajaya for a loan of up to RM2.5 billion.

The council is a federal town planning body that oversees large-scale projects in the country under the Town and Country Planning Act.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow yesterday questioned the approval to build KXP when Putrajaya had said no new airports would be built pending the results of a national study.

“Approval? I don’t know if that’s the correct word to use. MPFN only gives advice that you have to comply with to start the project. I think in the case of the proposed Kulim airport, it is the same – it would only give advice,” he said. -FMT

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