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Malaysia Considering Building International Airport on East Coast

A Malaysia Airlines A350. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

According to local media, the Malaysian government is considering building a new international airport in Gebeng, Pahang, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The state government will conduct an in-depth study on the new airport after the airport project was given the green light.

“There is a need to build a new airport because there is still no international airport in the east coast and this can provide better transport infrastructure facilities, revive the economy and the touism sector,” Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, Chief Minister of Pahang, said.

Pehang owns Kuantan Airport, however, Kuantan Airport is not being allowed to expand due to the airport belonging to the Royal Air Force (RMAF).  After the new airport is launched, the existing airport would be transferred to the RMAF.

Pahang’s government didn’t reveal the size of the potential new international airport but mentioned the project included shopping malls and hotels. “This project is a long-term plan that will develop in phases until 2050,” Rosdy said.

According to Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd’s (MAHB), operator of 39 airports across the nation, the country owns three international airports on the Malay Peninsula, including Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Langkawi International Airport and Penang International Airport. The three airports are located at the west end of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the gateway to the country, owning three independent runways and with a maximum capacity of 45 million passengers every year.

As a result of the successful Langkawi travel bubble, MAHB has been experiencing a recovery in travel demand from the pandemic. Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines, the nation’s flag carrier, said its “MHholidays” package has been sold more than 100% since the travel restrictions were lifted, with further passenger recovery expected over the next few months.

Travel Restrictions Ease For International Tourists

In the meantime, the Malaysian government said the Langkawi travel bubble will be introduced to international tourists. New travel regulations are set to begin on Nov. 15.

Tourists must be fully vaccinated and book through the travel agency registered with the ministry.  “The agent will be the one who will arrange their entire journey and they will not come directly to Langkawi on their own,”  Shukri said. The Langkawi travel bubble will be conducted for three months.

Although the pandemic is far from over, Malaysia noticed that Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia have succeeded at lifting some travel restrictions to international travelers.

“We are observing what other countries are doing and see where we can fit in, try to make sure that we are not left behind,” Shukri said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is considering resuming cross-border travel with Singapore. Before the pandemic, there was over 300,000 citizens crossing the land border everyday. Singapore- Kuala Lumper was one of the busiest air routes as well. Shukri is optimistic that the border should be by November.


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