Upgrade Road Before Relocating KKIA
The State Government should upgrade the existing road system before considering relocating Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), said Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Central Youth Movement leader Sim Fui.
He said there was no rush to build a new airport in the State Capital as the existing KKIA would reach its maximum capacity of 21 million passengers per annum (MPPA) only in 2037.
He said the Federal Government was mulling expanding KKIA in tandem with the growing passenger numbers, and therefore, the construction of a new airport was not necessary.
Besides, he pointed out that moving KKIA to a new location involved building roads and infrastructure to accommodate high traffic volume.
“There are talks that the proposed new airport will be located in Kuala Penyu or Papar, but the existing roads will not be able to cope with the volume of traffic.
“There ought to be at least four lanes travelling to and from the airport to avoid traffic congestion.”
Sim said that in response to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal’s remark that the State Government would be meeting with the Federal Government to discuss the need for Kota Kinabalu to have a new airport as KKIA has nearly exceeded its capacity of 9.5 million arrivals.
Shafie said that the airport has recorded arrivals of nearly nine million visitors.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Anthony Loke recently said that the Federal Government was considering expanding the KKIA in view of the increasing passenger volume.
According to the National Airport Master Plan 2008, Loke said KKIA has a maximum capacity of 21 million MPPA and the existing airport was expected to reach its maximum capacity limit only in 2037.
A Master Plan Study on KKIA’s expansion has been initiated by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) in August to review the long-term planning and development of the airport.
Sim said there was no need to build a new airport given that Loke and MAHB were confident that the existing KKIA would only reach its maximum capacity in 2037.
He said the State Government should have consulted the Federal Government before making announcements on major development projects.
“On one hand, Shafie, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew and Minister of Infrastructure Development Datuk Peter Anthony have given the people the impression that the relocation of KKIA would occur in the next two years.
“On the other hand, the Federal Government said there was room for expansion to meet rising passenger number in KKIA.”
Sim stressed that he was not against building a new airport per se but there were much to be considered in relocating KKIA, including the need to upgrade or construct new roads and infrastructure in the vicinity to prevent traffic congestion.
“The Federal Government is unable to give a definite completion date for the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah, let alone building new roads for the airport.”
He believed that most people in Sabah were not in favour of relocating KKIA, which would cost a staggering amount of public funds, when the existing KKIA could be expanded.
He added that the existing airport was still in good condition as well.
“The reason KKIA struggles to cope with the high volume of passengers is due to the few numbers of immigration counters.
“As several aircraft land in KKIA at the same time, the hundreds of passengers often have to wait for a long time to clear the immigration counters.”
Sim said KKIA should immediately improve its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and assign more personnel to man the immigration counters, especially during peak hours, to avoid congestion.
He said the government should also consider AirAsia Group Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes’s proposal for the airline to return to KKIA Terminal 2 if the latter was willing to equip the terminal with modern facilities like Terminal 4 of Singapore Changi Airport.
Sim further suggested having train service linking KKIA’s Terminal 1 and 2 for the convenience of passengers.
In fact, he said Terminal 1 would not need to relocate at all if AirAsia operated at Terminal 2.
Sim said the State Government should have discussed with the Federal Government, as well as conduct feasibility study, before deciding on new projects.
He said building a new airport required federal funds and approval from MAHB.
“How will the State Government explain to the people if the Federal Government is against the proposal for a new airport?
“Same as the Kota Kinabalu-Kudat rail project. Has the State Government consulted the Federal Government before deciding on the project?
“The projects would end up as empty talk if nothing is implemented.”