Sabah needs new airport, advocates aviation expert

Sabah needs new airport, says aviation consultant

In a bold move to address the looming capacity crunch, senior aviation consultant Faisal Malik has highlighted the need for a new airport in Sabah, Malaysia. The existing Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is approaching its maximum capacity, with limited opportunities for expansion.

KKIA: A single runway airport is subject to difficulties

KKIA, the second busiest airport in Malaysia, operates under the constraints of a single runway. This is in stark contrast to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), the country's busiest aviation hub with three runways. Malik stressed that a new terminal at KKIA would only be a stopgap solution, inadequate for future needs.

Envisioning a future-ready airport

Malik proposed that Sabah's growing air traffic required an airport with at least two runways. A comprehensive feasibility study examining the potential relocation of KKIA was jointly conducted by Qhazanah Sabah Bhd and Berjaya Land. The results of this investigation will soon be handed over to the concerned authorities.

Potential locations and important considerations

Two prospective locations, Kimanis and Duaran, have emerged as potential sites for a new airport, providing the necessary space for development. Malik highlighted the importance of detailed assessments, feasibility studies and community consultation. Such a holistic foundation is essential not only to meet regulatory requirements but also to ensure alignment of relocation plans with the interests of all stakeholders.

In parallel developments, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has appointed a consortium led by IJM Corp Bhd to resume the Aerotrain replacement project at KLIA, which was put on hold in August. The consortium includes Pestech International Bhd and French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom. Critical to ensuring passenger comfort and convenience at KLIA, the project was initially awarded to Pestech in December 2021, with Alstom appointed as the aerotrain supplier.

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