Relocation plan: KKIA won’t be able to accommodate estimated passenger influx

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will not be able to accommodate the projected passenger influx thus it needs to be relocated to a more suitable location, the Sabah State Legislative Assembly was told today.
Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Abidin Madingkir said the annual capacity of KKIA is nine million passengers however in 2019 it recorded 9.4 million passengers. 
He said COVID-19 has reduced air passenger arrivals in KKIA to 2.3 million in 2020 and 2.1 million last year, but the number of arrivals is expected to recover within three years.
Sabah has huge potential in tourism. The traffic flow will definitely increase from time to time. The rapid development of Kota Kinabalu city may not be able to meet the need to upgrade the existing airport in the future,” he said.
He said this in response to the oral question from Phoong Jin Zhe (DAP-Luyang) on KKIA’s relocation plan from Kota Kinabalu to Kimanis.
On Phoong’s supplementary question on whether a study has been conducted if KKIA can remain in Kota Kinabalu, Abidin said all factors were taken into account in the study, however, initial information found that KKIA’s capacity was only suitable to be upgraded to 18 million passengers a year.
In contrast, he said Sabah was expected to receive 36 million passengers in 2035, so initial measures needed to be taken to ensure that the airport could accommodate tourist arrivals without putting constraints on the state’s tourism sector.
“We should look at this positively, such as the relocation of Subang airport to Sepang, the economic overflows benefit Sepang, and we hope the same with Kimanis.
“Kota Kinabalu needs a vast area for development, but when there is an airport, certain developments are not suitable,” he said adding that the Pan Borneo Highway will help to facilitate transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Kimanis.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said the state government and its subsidiary Qhazanah Sabah Berhad had not paid Berjaya Land Berhad to carry out the feasibility study involving the relocation of KKIA to Kimanis.
“We appointed Berjaya Land because we believe that it is an experienced company and I am confident that they will also engage expert consultants in this matter. We can also protect the interests of the state government with the involvement of Qhazanah Sabah,” he said in reply to the supplementary question raised by Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Senallang) on the selection criteria for Qhazanah Sabah and Berjaya Land to conduct the study.

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