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Adam Lawrence

Putrajaya Approved RM1.6 Billion to Build Kulim International Airport

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Any proposal to build a new airport in Kulim should not discount Penang in the discussion. From what I can observe:

 

  1. No concrete decision yet on the future of Penang airport.
  2. Northern peninsular aviation market will be split even further if Kulim airport materialises (we already have LGK, AOR and even IPH which Perak government views as in need for improved/new facility). I am not sure how airlines react to this.
  3. For a population of around 6 million+ within radius of 150km from PEN, the regional connectivity is relatively quite good compared with other regional airports in the country. And supplemented by networks of expressways and ETS which links the region to Thailand and southern peninsular towards Singapore. So, I think Kulim Airport management will naturally leverage on this, but will find Penang as the immediate competition, despite what Minister of Economic Affairs say otherwise.
  4. There is no airline that primarily makes northern Peninsular as primary hub so Kulim Airport need to work hard to attract airlines to land there.

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Honestly, there's no reason for Kulim airport unless it works as a replacement for PEN. Anything else will not make any logic whatsoever, and there's simply no excuse to keep PEN open if Kulim Airport is to be developed

 

Given that the development is starting from scratch, connections to Penang like train lines etc can be built to connect Kulim to the island. If one argues about distance I'd say it's bull - given that the distance of the proposed airport location in Kuala Muda to Bayan Lepas is almost similar to KL-KUL, and that didn't stop KUL in the least bit. If they do it in Kulim proper instead of Kuala Muda, even better as the distance would be much less.

 

Close down PEN, and repurpose the airport land for something else, a larger industrial estate or affordable housing, I don't know. But to develop Kulim and still keep Penang open is simply STUPID.

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Close down PEN, and repurpose the airport land for something else, a larger industrial estate or affordable housing, I don't know. But to develop Kulim and still keep Penang open is simply STUPID.

I am not so sure - many cities thought they could close down old airports when they built new ones but they never did. E.g. KUL/SZB, NRT/HND, even land scarce Singapore kept Paya Lebar after Changi opened.

 

I guess it will depend on how quick thinking the government is....

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I am not so sure - many cities thought they could close down old airports when they built new ones but they never did. E.g. KUL/SZB, NRT/HND, even land scarce Singapore kept Paya Lebar after Changi opened.

 

I guess it will depend on how quick thinking the government is....

  • NRT/HND - adequate demand.
  • Paya Lebar/Changi - not relevant, considering Paya Lebar is now a military airbase. You can argue about Seletar, but even then the traffic into XSP is inconsequential compared to SIN.
  • KUL/SZB - SZB's traffic is inconsequential, compared to KUL. Same issue with XSP.

In the case of Kulim & Penang, the demand is just not there so Kulim will definitely end up as a white elephant. Either expand Penang, or build Kulim. You can't have both.

Edited by Mohd Suhaimi Fariz

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I don't see how Penang airport can further expand except closing down the factories surrounding it and reclaiming more land. Kulim is a good replacement for PEN considering its connectivity as a hub for northern peninsular.

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I don't see how Penang airport can further expand except closing down the factories surrounding it and reclaiming more land. Kulim is a good replacement for PEN considering its connectivity as a hub for northern peninsular.

 

They want to do a Kansai airport type development near Batu Maung - https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/133451

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Penang airport is in the island itself, Kedah's current airport (Sultan Abdul Halim) is way up north of the state, and Perak's airport is in Ipoh. In between those 3 airports, there is quite a large area whereby there is no "single airport" to connect them.

 

With Kulim airport setup - it will benefit:-

 

Penang & Kedah - those who staying in Mainland Penang or Kedah, or have businesses there (especially Sungai Petani, Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam) don't need to go Penang Island just to take airplane. Cargo transport will be much easier and cheaper.

 

Perak - from Taiping onwards (those in north), will not need to travel all the way to Ipoh. I have seen Ipoh's airport, and being right smack in the middle of it, there's no way it can be expended to become a major hub in the north.

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In between those 3 airports, there is quite a large area whereby there is no "single airport" to connect them.

If that area is akin to the Pearl River Delta or the SF Bay Area, fine.

 

Otherwise, the new airport will be nothing more than a gigantic white elephant that serves little more than the wishes of those who dream of a Malaysian EK/QR/SQ.

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I can see a reason for having an airport to serve southern Kedah and parts of mainland Penang, but not a lofty one.

 

Northern Perakians are in no mans land for air travel. That will not change even with an airport in Kulim. Much faster to get to PIA by getting off the NSE to the under utilised second bridge, which is close to the airport.

 

Parts of mainland Penang that would benefit from a Kulim airport would be the northern side of Butterworth, Kepala Batas and maybe Bukit Mertajam. The rest of the mainland population is close enough to either bridges. 30 to 45 minutes travel time isnt unreasonable. And most of the current and future townships on mainland Penang are close to either bridges, especially the second bridge. A Kulim airport is less competitive than the current PIA.

 

So, in reality the catchment area for a Kulim airport will be limited to only southern Kedah and bits of northern mainland Penang. While not insignificant in terms of population, a Kulim airport will not get more than a couple of daily KL flights.

 

Some have mentioned about freight. While Kulim has that high tech industrial park, it is no Penang. The logistics industry isnt gonna establish a hub at a Kulim airport just because of a couple of dozen factories. It only takes an hour or so to get that semicon chip from Kulim to PIAs cargo terminal.

 

In summary to Kedahs politicians, go ahead with building that airport. But you wont need anything longer than a 2000m runway and a couple of stands. Dont bother wasting money with taxiways. You wont need it. RM200million cukup?

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The only way actually Kulim Airport can be viable is to shut down PEN and move all flights and cargo ops to the Kulim Airport.

 

Does Penang want to give up it's island airport for more land on the island for development esp affordable housing?

 

Both states need to discuss this. As of now we don't know the timeline or capacity of the airport.

Edited by David.W

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