RM28.9 mln approved for upgrading of 13 airports in state


KUCHING: The state government will work with Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) to upgrade facilities at the 13 airports in the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said a special task force committee has been formed to monitor the upgrading of these airports.

“The committee, which will be chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, will see from all angles which part of the airport needs to be upgraded,” he told a press conference after officiating the ‘Cashless in KIA’ ceremony at Kuching International Airport (KIA) here yesterday.

He pointed out that MAHB had expressed their desire to upgrade airport facilities particularly  the state’s main airports namely KIA, Miri Airport, Sibu Airport and Bintulu Airport.

Describing KIA’s departure hall as ‘very narrow’ that was designed like a factory, Abang Johari said the airport has become very congested especially with the increase in the number of passengers.

“Not only is our airport design not user friendly, we don’t even have a walkavator and this makes it especially difficult for senior citizens who have to walk from one end to another. Thus for KIA to be a modern airport, it must have certain facilities.

“When we initially build this airport, we did not have any input from MAHB who is the operator of KIA. So now, we have to design it properly and must take into account MAHB’s input as well as the that of the state government to ensure that we can improve our airport.”

He hoped that the task force committee would be able to complete their findings and discussion within this year.

Meanwhile, MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said an allocation of RM28.9 million has been approved for the upgrading of the 13 airports in the state this year.

“These airports will go through some form of enhancement this year so there will be slightly larger facilities, more toilets, more car parks and so on. These are some of the major upgrades we are looking at while we discuss with the state government on how to continuously expand the airports in Sarawak.”

For KIA, he said upgrading work on its ambiance had started this month.

“We will start with making sure that the ambiance of the airport is enhanced to reflect Sarawak’s features and this upgrading works will continue for about a year to a year and a half.

“We are also looking into optimising current space at KIA so that passenger here can enjoy it better while we talk about the physical expansion later,” he remarked.

Among those present were Masing, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Malaysia Airports chairman Tan Sri Syed Anwar Jamalullail and Digi chief marketing officer Loh Keh Jiat.