Tuesday December 23, 2008
THE Perak Government had never asked for the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Perak to be turned into an international airport, said state Education, Local Government, Housing and Public Transport Committee chairman Nga Kor Ming.
He believed the airport had the potential to be a transit airport or at least, a domestic one.
"This is more than sufficient and it has been proven in the past that it's capable of accommodating landings by the Airbus and Boeing 737," he said after witnessing the swearing-in of new office bearers of the Perak Footwear Industry Association yesterday.
He said this in reply to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat who had said the runway could not be extended due to a lack of space, citing the surrounding mountains and densely populated residential areas as the reasons.
Nga hit out at Ong's statement that airlines had pulled out from Ipoh in the past due to insufficient passengers and cargo load.
"Not everything is about money, it is also about social responsibility. If you can fly to Keningau and Lahad Datu to fulfill your social responsibility, why not to Ipoh as well?" he asked.
Nga said the least Ong could do was to instruct Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiary Firefly to revive the KLIA-Ipoh and Singapore-Ipoh routes immediately.
"He should get MAS to do it even if it will be running at a loss because MAS is heavily subsidised by the people and this is the responsibility that a national carrier must bear.
"This is the least the Transport Minister can do and not let the Ipoh airport continue to sit as an ugly, white elephant," he added.
He further condemned the Government's decision to build a new international airport in Negri Sembilan, as irresponsible, counter-productive and a "brazen waste of the people's money."
Nga added that it was not the Pakatan Rakyat government which had asked for the RM170mil to upgrade the airport but it was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had made the promise himself last year.
Nga said that the state was ready to offer land to build a new international airport in Perak provided the Federal Government could ensure that there were sufficient aircraft landings and funding.