Thursday, November 23, 2006

To Expand Airport in Ipoh

Bid to expand airport in Ipoh
Reports by MAZNI MUSTAFA and CLARA CHOOI at the Perak State Assembly yesterday

THERE may be no local flights to the city now and the only regional ones are from Sumatra, but Perak is still determined to turn the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport into an international hub.

Tajol: ‘Travellers now have to drive to KLIA’Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali said a check he had conducted recently showed that Ipoh residents had the “purchasing power” to travel abroad by air

“I discovered that many Ipoh folk are flying to places like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong,” he said.

However, he added, these travellers now had to face the inconvenience of driving to KL International Airport (KLIA) for their flights.

“They have to wake up at 4am to leave Ipoh. It is difficult for them and also for those wanting to enter Ipoh from KLIA.

“They have to carry their heavy luggage about and spend a few hundred ringgit to take taxis,” he told reporters outside the Perak State Assembly here yesterday.

As such, he said, the state was waiting for the Transport Ministry’s approval to increase flight destinations to and from the city once its airport had been upgraded.

AirAsia suspended flights between here and Senai in September, with its chief executive officer Tony Fernandes citing the short runway as the reason for the move.

Now there are no local flights to the airport here but flights are still coming in from Medan.
On the extension of the runway, Tajol Rosli said it would be meaningless if only the Ipoh-Senai flights were resumed after the extension, due for completion by 2009.

“It will cost about RM40mil to extend the runway. However, it is pointless to spend the money if we do not increase flight destinations,” he said, adding that these could include places like Singapore, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Brunei, Acheh, Phuket, Bangkok, Hong Kong, South China and South India.

As an alternative for travellers to KLIA, Tajol Rosli suggested that the Ipoh-Rawang double-tracking railway be extended to the KL Sentral city terminal.

“At least then, people can take the train to KL Sentral and switch to the ERL (Express Railway Link), which will take them directly to the airport,” he said.

News Source : STAR
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