Subang Skypark ready to soar

The move comes as the old Subang airport has attracted a host of local and foreign aerospace companies offering a range of services and manufacturing facilities

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pics By TMR

The Subang Skypark development has got fresh impetus with the move by WCT Holdings Bhd to buy a controlling stake in Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd.

The move comes as the old Subang airport has attracted a host of local and foreign aerospace companies offering a range of services and manufacturing facilities.

There are more hangars to cater to private-jet operators/owners and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service centres, as well as centres for specialised aviation services positioned strategically at the airfield.

Once in the terminal (what used to be called Terminal 3), you would be greeted by a shopping area that could rival any other airport in the country.

More changes can be expected at the retail space within the terminal following WCT Holdings’ stake buy.

Subang Skypark and its two subsidiaries Skypark RAC Sdn Bhd and Skypark FBO Sdn Bhd, are mainly in charge of the commercial retail area at the Subang Skypark airport terminal, car park, the business aviation centre and hangarage complex.

WCT Holdings is the developer and concession holder of the shopping mall known as [email protected] KLIA2, which includes a transportation hub, as well as major retail malls such as Paradigm Mall in Johor Baru and Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

The connectivity to the terminal is being improved. A new station is being completed as part of the 8.14km rail line that would connect the Subang Jaya KTM station to Subang Skypark terminal in May.

On a grander scale, the three main stakeholders of the hub — Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and the Selangor state government — have planned investments in the area.

In the second part of the series on Subang Skypark, The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) highlights the main projects that are currently taking place around the area.

Asia Aerospace City

Mara has announced its own version of an aerospace city — known as Asia Aerospace City (AAC) — that would be built for a cool RM1.7 billion.

The project is supposed to be spearheaded by its investment arm, Pelaburan Mara Bhd (PMB), and would be operated by another subsidiary, Mara Aerospace and Technologies Sdn Bhd (Mara Aerotech).

The aerospace hub, which has government support, was proposed to be an Entry Point Project under the country’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

The project was inspired by an ETP finding that the aerospace industry is projected to be valued at US$1 trillion (RM4 trillion) by 2020.
Former Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who was also in charge of Mara, was quoted in news reports saying the AAC would create up to 10,000 engineering jobs.

The project aims to tap opportunities in the international aerospace industry. At that point, Airbus had just launched its “Power 8” programme to strengthen the supply chain across the world.

Mohd Shafie added the AAC project would provide a platform for “seamless interaction between academic institutions and industry players”.

The announcement was followed by the signing of an agreement between PMB and Atkins Global, one of world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultants, for the latter to conceptualise the AAC. The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak

On paper, the AAC was expected to occupy a 328,000 sq m (32.8ha) land plot, with six strategic units, namely the business consulting centre, engineering services, professional development centre, research and technology, investment, as well as infrastructure.

The project aims to transform the area into a high-tech aviation hub and Edubiz Park by 2020, but is believed to be facing delays.

Certain quarters claimed this was due to land acquisition issues and differing views among related stakeholders including the Selangor state and MAHB.

The AAC’s first phase of development will see the setting up of the Mara’s technical aerospace education hub, known as Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology (MIAT), which will house 2,000 students at one time.

This will be followed by the set up of the engineering services complexes and in the final phase, the development of business and exhibition buildings. These phases are hanging in the balance.

It is believed most of the remaining land which was supposed to be part of AAC’s masterplan during the launch is owned by MAHB.

New Mara chairman Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin had said in a report he would revisit the project to determine the next course of action.

Naguib Mohd Nor

Apart from providing human talent to AAT, Naguib says Mara is working with MAHB on the Subang regeneration project (Pic by Afif Abd Halim/TMR)

Mara Aerotech CTO Naguib Mohd Nor told TMR recently the company, which operates AAC, will be focusing and utilising its current capacity as an education hub via MIAT and its Asia AeroTechnic (AAT) — an MRO centre.

“As the concept is Edubiz, we have to ensure the education institution is built first. On the land side, it is still under planning because there is also movement in the other properties surrounding the area,” he said.

Apart from providing human talent to its own subsidiary, AAT, Naguib said Mara is working with MAHB on the Subang regeneration project.

“We are trying to harmonise with what MAHB is working on, because the existing assets would also fit other aerospace activities as well.

“We will consolidate with their plan and utilise on it before moving to any other new development,” he said, adding that there is no formal direction by Mara to initiate the next stages at present.

An industry source told TMR part of the AAC’s second phase might not follow the original plan.

“The southern part of AAC building called ‘Plot B’ — with a grand design that is inspired by the wings of an aeroplane as designed by Atkins Global — would not materialise as the parcel belongs to MAHB’s new project Subang Aerotech Park,” the source said.

Subang Regeneration Initiative and Subang Aerotech Park

While other stakeholders are figuring out their next move, MAHB continues with its grand scheme, the Subang Regeneration Initiative, that is expected to elevate its 24.28ha area into a respectable aviation and aerospace hub known as Subang Aerotech Park.

Mohd Badlisham

Mohd Badlisham says MAHB has outlined a plan to revitalise and regenerate the current airport and surrounding ecosystem (Pic by Ismail Che Rus/TMR)

In his email reply to TMR, MAHB MD Datuk Mohd Badlisham Ghazali said the company has outlined a plan to revitalise and regenerate the current airport and surrounding ecosystem.

“We will maximise the potential opportunities from its developed and undeveloped landbank,” he said.

While he declined to comment on the AAC’s progress, Mohd Badlisham said MAHB will continue to work with any interested industry player to spur the growth of Subang as an aerospace hub.

The regeneration exercise, he noted, would focus on three strategic initiatives which are the City Airport, the Business Aviation Nexus and the Aerospace Ecosystem.

For the aerospace ecosystem, Mohd Badlisham said the ongoing development is the Subang Aerotech Park in two phases; namely the MRO centre — which will reuse the existing Former Customs Department building — and the new greenfield developments.

On the new land development, he said MAHB will utilise the whole of its 24.28 ha unused land parcels, which will be the location for manufacturing plants, MRO services and precision engineering works.

The manufacturing would cover products like aero structures, components, tools and jigs, while the MRO side will consist of components and engine services.

He added that the project will have a centralised logistics area and commercial offerings for industry players.

“The gross development cost of the Subang Aerotech Park development is RM400 million,” he said.

Subang Skypark

MAHB aims to establish the country’s 1st dedicated private-jet hub and terminal on their Subang’s land by 2021 — as part of the regeneration initiative (Pic by Afif Abd Halim/TMR)

Last week, MAHB announced the construction of Senior Aerospace UPECA’s — a Tier 1 aerospace manufacturer — plant and office at the Subang Aerospace Park, which is slated to commence in this month.

It will be a built-to-suit project on a 1.66ha land, developed by Axis REIT Managers Bhd and expected to be completed by year-end, housing the UPECA manufacturing centre, storage and distribution of aerospace parts.

MAHB aims to establish the country’s first dedicated private-jet hub and terminal on their Subang land by 2021 as part of the regeneration initiative.

Mohd Badlisham said the project would increase business jets in Malaysia from about 50 to more than 150 jets within the next five years.

Apart from the plans by MAHB, the government is expected to introduce an 8.14km rail line extension that connects the Subang Jaya KTM station to the Subang Skypark terminal in May this year.

The train will carry airline passengers travelling to and from the terminal and enhance business connectivity within Subang Aerotech Park.

Selangor Govt and GE

The Selangor state government in its 2018 budget stated the involvement of General Electric International Inc (GE) via a RM200 million high-tech LEAP Engine Services facility — the first LEAP engine service centre outside the US.

GE has a MRO service there run by subsidiary, GE Engine Services Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

“GE Aviation is looking into potential future upgrades to capabilities at its GE Engine Services facility in Subang Jaya to support the MRO of LEAP engines.

“The investment is subject to certain commercial considerations, being met by all parties involved,” a GE spokesperson confirmed with TMR in a reply that was emailed last month.

The Subang aerospace redevelopment masterplan remains fluid. One thing certain is the aerospace industry now generates an annual revenue of RM12.7 billion and employs more than 21,000 skilled workers.

The Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030 has set a vision for Malaysia to be the number one aerospace nation in South-East Asia, while playing an integral role in the global market by the year 2030.

The blueprint targets a fivefold jump in revenue to RM55.2 billion by that year, with more than 32,000 high income jobs creation in the industry.