Wednesday, November 26, 2008





The Government will give priority to the construction of a new airport for Lahad Datu, costing RM500 million, during the 10th Malaysia Plan, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Lajim Ukin.

He said the project was supposed to take off at the start of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010) but had to be postponed because of the economic situation at that time.

Lajim said the new airport would be able to cater for bigger aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A330.

“The Ministry has resubmitted the proposal to the Economic Planrnng Unit and Finance Ministry and was told that the matter will be looked into when the economic situation after opening the upgraded Lahad Datu Airport terminal yesterday.

Lajim said the Government was aware of the need to have a better airport for the district in line with its position as the State’s hub for palm oil industry through the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster project.

Earlier, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Nasrun Datu Mansor said a 324-hectare area at Sandau had been identified for the airport project.

“It is now up to the Federal Government to approve the project. The site is ready,” he said.

Nasrun, who is also the Assemblyman here, said also that the district requires a bigger airport in view of the rapid pace of development and the increasing number of population.

Meanwhile, Lajim said that the upgraded airport here would contribute to the development of economy here, including the tourism sector.

Under the 9MP, he said the Government also upgraded the Kuching International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Kuala Terengganu International Airport and the Melaka Airport.

According to Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAB) Senior Operations Manager Datuk Azimi Murad, the airport was renovated at the cost of RM1. 6 million and now can handle up to 115,000 passengers annually.

He said the total floor area of the renovated terminal has been expanded from 3,305 sq ft to 6,863 sq ft providing ample comfort space for all passengers.

The present runway of 1,371 metres with two aircraft bays is capable of handling Fokker 50 and the new ATR 72 aircraft on times daily scheduled flights.

“Airport users can also look forward to an improved air-conditioned public concourse, which now consists of three check-in counters configured with baggage conveyor, two convenience shops and one F&B outlet. VIP lounge and public toilets have also been given a facelift, while an additional 50 chairs have been installed and prayer rooms are also available,” said Azmi.

He added that the terminal handles an average of 200 passengers and four flights daily. Currently, MAS Wings is the only airline serving the airport.

Last year, he said the airport here recorded a total of 77,024 passenger movements and 2,195 commercial aircraft movements.