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By Ling Hui
KUCHING, Nov 23: Kuching needs a bigger airport to accommodate the increasing number of flights and tourist arrivals as Kuching International Airport (KIA) is already congested, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
“I know very well that based on statistics, our Kuching airport at the moment is actually congested. In the next two years, that airport will no longer able to receive the increasing number of flights through it,” he said.
With that, he pointed out the importance and urgency for the Sarawak government to come up with a plan now to ensure KIA could potentially take in more flights in the coming years after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Believing that it is too soon to reveal any plan that the state government currently has on the subject, Abang Johari only disclosed this project has been deliberated by specialists in airport development.
“I think it’s premature to reveal what we have in mind now but definitely we are looking into having a bigger airport which can accommodate the increase in flights and the potential increase in tourist arrivals in Sarawak after this pandemic.
“There is a plan to that, but it has been deliberated to people who are specialised in this airport development,” he said during the Facebook live session of Chief Minister’s Webinar on Sarawak 2021 Budget organised by Sarawak Business Federation (SBF).
On a related issue, Abang Johari said Sarawak needs a homegrown airline instead of purchasing certain shares or acquiring certain existing airlines as there might be liabilities.
Noting that the state government is already looking into the matter, he emphasised the need for Sarawak to have its own carrier to connect the state with strategic locations around the world.
“We are still looking into it, but I definitely agree that we need our homegrown carrier in order to connect to strategic locations, for instance Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Australia and other nearby destinations, for us to bring tourists to Sarawak.
“We are looking into the right approach for us to set up our own airline. It may not be 100 per cent government (owned) but with the private sector because an airline has to be private sector-driven,” said Abang Johari. — DayakDaily