KUCHING, April 2: A total of RM28.9 million will be spent to upgrade all main airports in the state starting this year.
According to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, with the ever increasing number of travellers using airports in Sarawak, there is an urgent need to upgrade all major airports in the state to rectify inconveniences being experienced by users.
Speaking to reporters after officiating at the ‘Cashless in KIA’ initiative at the Kuching International Airport (KIA) this morning, he said the condition of the main airports in the state now, especially the KIA, was not up to international standards like its name implied.
“Facilities at KIA for example are incomplete. That is why it is important that we (state government) must have input from our airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB).
“For example, if you notice, our (KIA) departure hall is very narrow. Now that we have a higher volume of passengers, it can become congested. Also, gates for international flights are located very far away and there is no walkalator to assist passengers.
“Therefore, through a task force which has been formed recently, consisting of MAHB and the state government, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister, we will identify what needs to be upgraded or developed so that our airports are user-friendly and convenient for passengers,” said Abang Johari.
Earlier in his speech during the launching ceremony, Abang Johari said the state government did not mind to financially assist MAHB in its effort to upgrade airports in the state.
He said KIA for example, must live up to the ‘international’ in its name and meet international standards.
“We hope with this collaboration through the task force, we will have proper planning on how to upgrade our airport (KIA) so that it will look more international. After all it’s called Kuching International Airport.
“But if it doesn’t look international it would be very embarrassing. It must have an international look and international facilities. The ambiance of the departure hall must be there, at least like Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) or Singapore’s Changi Airport.
“If below that (standard), might as well don’t put the word ‘international’ in our airport name; even I would be embarrassed,” said Abang Johari, adding that he will leave the planning and implementation to the task force.
In relation to that, MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said facilities at 13 airports in Sarawak will undergo upgrades starting this year.
“We will start with KIA in improving its ambiance this month, as well as upgrading existing facilities up to standard,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abang Johari also revealed that through Hornbill Skyways, the state government has acquired a RM10 million cargo plane to be used to transport agricultural produce from rural areas to market.
He said the aircraft will be brought to the state once two proposed airstrips in Sadok near Betong and Tunok in Upper Rajang have been completed.
“We have planned for two airstrips, in Sadok near Betong and Tunok in Upper Rajang. Those areas are the state’s main agricultural zones.
“The cargo plane with a capacity of about three tonnes will be brought in under Hornbill Skyways. We have ordered and purchased it. So we have to build those airstrips fast. Funding will be by the state government.
“We will let Hornbill Skyways handle it,” said Abang Johari. — DayakDaily