Penang not objecting to Kulim Airport but concerned about impact — Chow

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GEORGE TOWN (May 3): The Penang Government will not object to the Kulim Airport (KXP) project as long as it does not adversely affect the State, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said tonight.

He said although the project would be implemented via Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and would not involve Government funds, due concern should be given to its implications to Penang.

"So far, we have not said we objected to the KXP. We only have expressed our concern 'in the most sincere manner' and also looking at how Penang can be impacted. In this case it may be good for Kulim but it may not be good for Penang,” he told a press conference at the end of the State Legislative Assembly sitting here.

He said the Federal Government and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng would have no objection to the implementation of the project as it would proceed via PFI but such financial arrangement alone should not be the factor for the approval.

“PFI cannot be the sole reason to implement a project,” he said when commenting on Lim's recent statement that there was no reason to block the proposal to build KXP in Kedah as it would be funded by the private sector via PFI.

Commenting on Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir's statement that KXP would be a complementary cargo service airport in the northern region, Chow said the proposal would have to go through the due process.

"We take note of the Menteri Besar's assurance since it is still early days in terms of (pursuing) the project because first, there must be a PFI company to come in to make the proposal. I am sure the proposal will have to go through all the necessary process like what we have done for PTMP (Penang Transport Master Plan),” he said,

Commenting on the options that he mentioned during a question-and-answer session at the Assembly yesterday to form a Kulim-Penang airports synergy, he said the two airports must find a synergy and the market they want to serve.

"We think the four scenarios that I have shared are possible to happen. It depends on what type of decision we made, what options we want to take. For Option Three, we have to see whether it is a feasible proposition or not. It is also something to be considered," he said.

Three other options that he had mentioned were to expand PIA to its optimum capacity, to build a new airport in Penang and to focus only on KXP.