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PIA set to become second largest airport in the country


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Penang International Airport (PIA) is poised to undergo a monumental transformation, solidifying its status as a key aviation hub in Malaysia. With a RM1.5 billion expansion project slated for completion in 2028, the airport is set to become the second largest in the country, offering a significant boost to both capacity and facilities.

Currently, PIA can accommodate 16 commercial aircraft at its terminal. However, with the expansion plans in motion, the airport will see a substantial increase in its operational capacity. The addition of six parking bays and six remote parking bays will enable PIA to handle up to 28 planes simultaneously, rivalling the capacity of Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

The expansion project encompasses various aspects of airport infrastructure, including the construction of a new multi-storey car park with an additional 1,700 parking bays, effectively doubling the capacity to 3,400 lots. Additionally, the terminal’s gross floor area will undergo a significant augmentation, expanding from 55,000sq m to 115,000sq m, providing passengers with a more spacious and efficient travel experience.

Scheduled to commence physical work in the third quarter of 2024, the terminal expansion construction is anticipated to take 33 months, with a targeted completion date set for the second quarter of 2028. The ambitious project has received approval from the Cabinet and local authorities, reflecting a concerted effort to bolster Penang’s infrastructure and tourism sector.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow expressed his satisfaction with the approval and funding of the expansion project, highlighting its potential to attract more tourists to Penang and stimulate economic recovery. The project is expected to catalyze socioeconomic development in the Northern Corridor states and further enhance Penang’s industrial sectors.

Despite the ambitious expansion plans, efforts have been made to ensure environmental sustainability and minimal disruption to surrounding areas. The expansion will be contained within the current airport land area and neighboring lands, with no land reclamation involved. The Penang government has also addressed concerns regarding the relocation of affected staff quarters, offering affordable housing solutions in Teluk Kumbar.

Furthermore, the expansion project aligns with the vision for Silicon Island development in the south of PIA. It has been clarified by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) that the proposed expansion focuses solely on terminal expansion, without interfering with Silicon Island development plans.

Over its 87-year history, PIA has undergone several infrastructure expansions to meet growing demands. From its humble beginnings with an annual capacity of 1.5 million passengers in 1979 to its current capacity of 6.5 million passengers, the airport has continually evolved to accommodate increasing travel growth.

While the expansion project promises significant benefits for passenger traffic, concerns have been raised regarding potential neglect of cargo infrastructure. The Penang Freight Forwarders Association emphasizes the need for an extension of the cargo area to accommodate growing cargo volumes, ensuring the holistic growth of airport operations.

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