SEPANG: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the 21st anniversary celebration of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) yesterday said that he is proud of the airport, just as proud as he felt in 1998 when officiating its opening.
“I was proud then because it was the realisation of a dream and a promise. I am proud today because it is a reality,” he said in his speech during the ‘KLIA Turns 21 – A Precious Legacy’ celebration at KLIA here yesterday.
During the speech, Dr Mahathir recalled his fond memories of KLIA which grew to be a state-of-the-art airport from once a palm oil estate on peat soil.
“It was indeed amazing to witness the palm oil estate morphing into an airport of such beauty and ability to become an icon. It is an architectural wonder,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also recorded his appreciation to the late Kisho Kurokawa, the renowned Japanese architect who was behind KLIA’s ‘Airport in the Forest, Forest in the Airport’ concept.
“It wasn’t so at first, but after 21 years it is clearly an airport in the forest and a forest in the airport,” he added.
During the event today, the Prime Minister viewed the original scale model of KLIA presented by Kisho Kurokawa Architect and Associates, It will be on permanent display at KLIA.
During a press conference later, Dr Mahathir was asked about his dream for KLIA and in his reply, he said he never thought of low cost airlines in 1998 but now it was a big industry.
“In future, maybe we (Malaysia) need a space port. Who knows. And you will be travelling three hours to London,” he said, adding that there were already such programmes proposed by certain people to have this in Malaysia.
Asked on the growth within 100 square kilometres of KLIA, Dr Mahathir said there were many new proposals coming in.
“Every Boeing or Airbus flying would have components made here in Malaysia. And we are extending component manufacture into other part areas not only composing materials but metal parts.
“So there is great potential for growth especially for building up engines. Already we (Malaysia) are putting together the engines and finalising the work for engines which sometimes come from Singapore but we do the finishing work here,” he said.
Asked on a recent news report on a proposal to interline KLIA and Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2), Dr Mahathir said the matter was not finalised yet.
It was reported that Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) may consider interlining KLIA and klia2 as interlining facilitates seamless movement of passengers and their baggage, especially when traffic builds up. — Bernama