Subang Skypark — is the puzzle complete? Almost…

Mara wants to transform the area into its version of AAC, MAHB has its own version of an aviation hub, while the Selangor govt also has plans for another aviation-related project

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pics By TMR

If the Subang Skypark area is a massive jigsaw puzzle, putting all the pieces together to form an entire big picture would be quite a challenging task.

The area, the location for the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (SAAS) Airport, once the only Malaysian gateway to the world, was shot into the spotlight within the last five years when its stakeholders (and landowners) each announced several plans to redevelop and rejuvenate Subang into an aviation hub.

Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) wanted to transform the area into its version of Asia Aerospace City (AAC), while Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) had its own version of an aviation hub.

The other stakeholder, the Selangor state government, also had its eyes on the area for another aviation-related project.

Despite their different ideas and concepts, the stakeholders have a common goal — to maximise the utilisation of the area and realise the government’s first National Aero- space Blueprint.

The blueprint was introduced in 1997 with the aim of pushing Malaysia’s aerospace industry to be a global player by 2015.

The 1997-2015 blueprint, which was drawn up by the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology, called for the establishments of various bodies to achieve its target.

It included the establishment of the National Aerospace Council, National Space Agency and National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office.

A year after the blueprint was introduced, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) began its operation in Sepang.

All the major activities that were housed at SAAS Airport in Subang were then shifted to KLIA.

The old airport was somehow “forgotten” for a while. In fact, the area became more like a ghost town that occasionally hosted non-aviation events, mainly music-related projects like concerts and rave parties.

In February 2008, the “abandoned airport” underwent renovation works at its Terminal 3.

The project was completed in October 2009, and the airport was later renamed as Subang Skypark.

It is now the hub for turbo-prop planes operated by Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd, Berjaya Air Sdn Bhd and Firefly Sdn Bhd, as well as a the spot for several private-jet companies.

When the Skypark project was first completed, the government also proposed that the airport be designated as the Malaysia International Aerospace Centre.

The move augured well with the fact that area had already multiple well-known players including Rolls-Royce plc, Airbus SE and Spirit AeroSystems Inc that had become part of the national aerospace industry.

Apart from becoming a major regional airport, the area is now also established as a major international hub for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

Last February, the function of the Department of Civil Aviation was upgraded, allowing the body to regulate the safety and security aspects relating to the civil aviation industry — part of the blueprint agenda.

It is now known as Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia and will be overseen by the Ministry of Transport. The pieces seem to be coming together to complete the whole big picture. The lines (and borders) that were once blurred, are now clearer with more definite designations. Mara is continuing its AAC project — although the focus is more on the area as an aviation education hub, while MAHB recently announced its Subang Regeneration Initiative.

The Selangor state government, on the other hand, is working with private companies to establish manufacturing and services facilities.

Among the notable projects initiated by the state government include General Electric International Inc’s RM200 million investment in a high-tech LEAP Engine Services.

In this two-part series, The Malaysian Reserve traces the development of the Subang Skypark following the government’s decision to move the country’s main international airport to Sepang.

While certain initiatives are taking place nicely around the area, some of the proposed projects, it seems, are still up in the air.

Subang Skypark

In August 2012, airport operator Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd is reported to have invested RM420 million on an infrastructure development plan to transform the whole airport and the surrounding into a full-fledged aerospace city by 2015.

The company planned to utilise its 4.8ha of land to build a boutique hotel, an aviation museum and theme parks, which is also part of a retail mall.

“We are in the final round of talks with our expert joint-venture partner, a local established player in the retail and hotel industry.

Subang Skypark ED Tan Sri Ravindran Menon

Skypark Nexus will have an approximate built-up area of 1m sq ft and will rejuvenate the airport’s branding, as well as enhance the wholesomeness of customer experience in the airport and its surrounding areas, says Ravindran (Pic by Afif Abd Halim/TMR)

“The development, named Skypark Nexus, will have an approximate built-up area of one million sq ft and will rejuvenate the airport’s branding as well as enhance the wholesomeness of customer experience in the airport and its surrounding areas,” Subang Skypark ED Tan Sri Ravindran Menon said in a report.

He added that all negotiations were expected to be concluded by end of 2012 and works were expected to commence in January the following year. It would take up to 24 months to complete with an initial investment of RM350 million.

The report also stated that the operator would invest more than RM70 million to build five new hangars

across the current airport runway — which will be sprawled over 12ha across the runway, slated for operation in June 2013.

“These hangars will be for parking and MRO of both private and corporate jets. Each of the hangars can accommodate up to five aircraft at any one time,” he said.

He added that as most of the aviation-related company’s head offices were located within the Skypark’s surrounding area, the future investment would turn Subang into an aerospace city by 2015.

At press time, there is still no sign of any development of the boutique hotel, aviation museum or theme parks surrounding the Subang airport.

Still, one could consider the intended initiative as the main impetus that had spurred back the interest in the area that is currently being transformed.

If all the parties involved in the transformation of the aviation hub could get their projects in sync, Subang could certainly be the area to watch in the years to come.

  • In Part 2 tomorrow: The projects that will be.