Priority, he said, should be increasing the number of aircraft parking bays from 22 aircraft stands, and expanding and upgrading facilities at the terminal.
“Instead of having another runway, priority should be given to expand and upgrade other existing facilities at the airport.
“This should be the priority,” he said when asked to comment on Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s proposal to add an extra runway for the airport.
Lim had proposed an additional runway, an integrated air cargo facility and a maintenance, repair and overhaul hub at the airport. He had made the proposals after Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir announced plans to build a new international airport for the northern states in Kulim.
Lim’s proposals came in contrast to his immediate response to Mukhriz’s announcement, when he demanded that Penang should have two airports if an international airport was to be built in Kedah.
Ariff said there was no point to having additional runways when other facilities at the terminal would reach full capacity soon.
Asked on the terminal’s capacity to handle passengers, Arif said it was built to accommodate 6.5 million people.
“Last year, we handled 5.5 million passengers, and this year, we expect the number to reach six million.
“We also expect the terminal to reach its full capacity by 2017.”
“Of course, extending the runway would make us, as the operator, happy, as we can then accommodate bigger aircraft.
“There is no point to having two runways when the other factors could hinder the growth of the airport if left unchecked.”
Meanwhile, in Alor Star, both Chinese and Malay chambers of commerce are fully supportive of the state government’s proposal to build an international airport in Kulim.
They said the airport would not only be a catalyst for Kedah development, but would also create a major spillover to its neighbours in the northern states.
Kedah Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Sunny Hoe Thean Sun said the state needed such a project to leapfrog its development as it had a lot of catching up to do with other developed states.
“Kedah needs that kind of boost, not only to lure foreign investments, but also to retain existing local and foreign investors, and prevent them from migrating to new, emerging markets, such as Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.”
However, Hoe pointed out that the project should run in tandem with a solid plan to transform Kedah into an industrialised state.
His sentiments were shared by Kedah Malay Chamber of Commerce president Dr Ahmad Fitri Othman, who said Kedah was strategically positioned to become a new air hub for the northern region.NST
Sikap dengki dan busuk hati ini sememangnya dah sejati dalam hati Guan Eng ni . Kerajaan pusat harus menilai sebaiknya , rakyat Kedah sudah lama dahagakan kemajuan dan dalam pilihanraya 13 dulu rakyat Kedah sudah buktikan dan kembalikan kepada Barisan Nasional dan sekarang waktu Kerajaan menghargai pengorbanan rakyat Kedah.