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December 21, 2010

RM250mil upgrade for Penang airport

By CHRISTINA CHIN and MANJIT KAUR
north@thestar.com.my

THE Penang International Airport (PIA) will have a spanking new look in June 2012 under its RM250mil expansion project.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the project, which comes under the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) blueprint, was carried out by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday.

The airport’s new terminal facade will have a modern and contemporary concept with more retail and food outlets of renowned international brands and high quality local names.

In his address, Najib said equipping terminals with modern public facilities and delivering high level customer service were key to portraying a favourable image of the country to travellers.

“Cooperation and coordination between airlines, airport operators and government agencies are also essential in ensuring a pleasant experience for travellers,” he said, adding that the PIA would employ ‘meeters and greeters’ and increase its engagement with the local community around the airport to better serve visitors to the state.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the PIA’s passenger load had consistently ranked fourth among the country’s 39 airports.

“From January to November, the number of passengers using the PIA increased by more than 26% to 3.7 million compared to the same period last year.


New look: Closeup of a model showing the new PIA after the expansion.

“Compared to 2009, cargo traffic has also risen by 12% in the same period to 139,200,161kg,” he said.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad, said the expansion was part of its five-year “Runway to Success” business strategy to realise its vision for traffic growth, commercial deve-lopment and service excellence.

“The PIA has surpassed its maximum capacity with the aggressive growth of both passenger and aircraft movements in the last few years,” he said.

The expansion works involve three main packages — upgrading the main infrastructure, utility and related buildings (package one); main terminal building (package two) and air-side area facilities (package three).

Formerly dubbed the Bayan Lepas International Airport, the terminal was built in 1977 and has since undergone several upgrading measures including resurfacing the runway in 2007, expanding the terminal and increasing the check-in counters in 2008 and restoring the taxiway and apron last year.

The latest upgrading was announced by the Federal Government as part of its RM6bil fiscal stimulus package last year.

Once completed, the floor area will double to 52,000sq m, with an ability to support some 5 million passengers compared to only 3.5 million now.

Bashir said there would be more aircraft parking bays, immigration, customs and security screening counters, baggage reclaim carousels, departure lanes, public seating and toilets.

He said 800 extra car park lots would be added to the existing 1,200.

Bashir added that the main significant additions were the inline baggage screening and segregation of international and domestic passengers.

“The inline baggage screening will improve passenger flow as they won’t need to screen their baggages before checking in. Better segregation of international and domestic passengers will enhance security measures,” he said.