Even Doubling The Expansion Of The Penang International Airport(PIA) To A Capacity Of 13 Million Passengers Will Not Last Till 2025, Based On The Growth Rate Of 8.71% For The First 5 Months Of 2017, The Proposed Capacity Of 10 Million Passengers Will Be Exceeded Before 2023.
(Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 7.8.2017.)
Even doubling the expansion of the Penang International Airport(PIA) to a capacity of 13 million passengers will not last till 2025. Based on the growth rate of 8.71% for the first 5 months of 2017, the proposed capacity of 10 million passengers will be exceeded before 2023. This follow the written reply to my parliamentary question(below) that the Federal government is only planning an expansion of PIA to a capacity of 10 million passengers to last till 2025.
PIA has exceeded its present capacity of 6.5 million passengers, with 6.7 million passengers recorded in 2016, four years ahead of the scheduled 2020. It took PIA just 7 years to double its passengers load to more than 6.5 million passengers. For the first 5 months of 2017, passenger movements grew by 8.7 % and is expected to exceed 7 million passengers by end 2017.
Why expand PIA from 6.5 million passengers to only 10 million passengers, when you need to do so again in 7 years time? For this reason, the Penang state government proposes that the PIA be doubled in size with a capacity that exceeds 13 million passengers, to take into account the strong growth rate driven by high tourist numbers.
Penang has always been a favoured tourist destination for its famous street food and durians. The inscription of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 has helped put Penang on the world map. New tourism products in the heritage enclave, a RM200 million rebranding of Komtar, the completion of the RM350 million SPICE Exhibition Centre, the enhancement of Bukit Bendera and Batu Ferringhi as ecological green belts have also provided more choice and options.
Penang has also strengthened its position in medical tourism by seeking to become a medical city. Amongst new hospitals coming up, the biggest is Island Hospital group. Island Hospital group is investing RM2 billion to build a 1,000 bed private hospital, the largest private hospital in Malaysia. Penang is also emerging as a centre of art, culture and heritage with 15 private art galleries and museums. There are also world class cultural performances and events such as George Town Festival and Literary Festival.
With 24,000 hotel rooms and more hotels being built in Penang, failure to expand the international airport to cater to the influx of tourists, would be a major economic blunder that is unforgivable to us and our future generation.
Lim Guan Eng