The Penang International Airport marked a 15.21% increase in international passenger arrivals last year compared to 2017, another sign that the airport badly needs to be expanded, the state government said.
From 1.54 million international passengers in 2017, the number increased to 1.78 million last year.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the PIA also recorded passenger traffic of 7.780 million last year which was an increase of 7.59 per cent compared to 7.232 million in 2017.
“These figures suggested that the proposed expansion plan for the PIA is overdue as the passenger traffic had already surpassed the airport capacity of 6.5 million,” he told reporters after a cheque presentation ceremony in Komtar here.
He said the state government is still awaiting “good news” from the federal government and relevant parties on the proposed expansion project.
“There is no final decision on the expansion plans yet, the original proposal by the Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad was to increase the capacity to 12 million passengers,” he said.
He said Putrajaya has revealed that the government is in the process of restructuring all airport concessions and management.
“So we will wait for the federal government decision with regards to how soon the expansion can be carried out,” he said.
He said the expansion is necessary, not only to increase capacity but also to increase direct flights coming into PIA.
“The numbers are increasing each year, without expanding the PIA, we can’t give more slots for direct flights and we can’t attract more airlines to Penang,” he said.
He said Penang aimed to have more direct flights to Penang especially from East Asian countries.
Chow said there were new international direct flights and increased number of flights connecting to Penang in 2018.
“As of November 2018, there were a total 283 international direct flights per week to Penang, which is a 21.9 per cent growth from the previous year of 232 flights,” he said.
The new direct flights introduced last year were to Hanoi and Phuket by AirAsia, Doha by Qatar Airways, Banda Acheh and Nanning by Malindo Airline and Jakarta and Surabaya by Citilink.
The flights with increased frequencies were to Hong Kong, Doha, Taipei, Phuket and Jakarta.
Source: The Malaysian Insight and Malaymail