GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Penang's airport is expected to be expanded soon at a cost of between RM800 million (S$261 million) and RM900 million.
The expansion will double the terminal's gross floor area to 113,005 sq m from 54,582 sq m.
The new design will have the capacity to accommodate 12 million passengers per annum, from 6.5 million today, and can handle 25 commercial aircraft at any one time.
In contrast, Malaysia's main Kuala Lumpur International Airport and second terminal KLIA2 at Sepang has a capacity of handling 75 million passengers a year.
With the Penang upgrade, the number of parking bays will be increased to 1,800 bays from 1,218 presently.
Like most airports in Malaysia, the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas is managed by Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) . The airport manager recently received the go-ahead from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for the airport's expansion.
The terminal's upgrading is good news for the state with expectations that Kulim town in next door southern Kedah - about an hour's drive away from Penang airport - is set to get a new airport which could provide competition for the Penang facility.
Construction work to expand the Penang airport is scheduled to start in March next year, and is expected to be completed within 36 months.
An announcement on the expansion project is expected to be made by the Penang state government or airport authorities soon.
When contacted, a spokesman for MAHB confirmed that the masterplan has been approved by the MBPP.
"However, we are still waiting for the official letter from them. Announcement will be made by top management when the official letter is received, " he said.
It was learnt that MAHB is expected to offer the tender for construction jobs in January.