New Pulau Tioman airport ‘impossible’

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) said Pulau Tioman does not have a large enough space to accommodate a new airport as proposed by Berjaya Corp Bhd founder and executive chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan with the aim of developing the tourist destination.

MAHB MD Datuk Mohd Badlisham Ghazali said there is no suitable area to build a larger airport worth RM1.2 billion as planned by the tycoon.

“Even MAHB’s earlier plan to build an airport on the island of Pahang had hit a dead end due to environmental concerns,” Mohd Badlisham told reporters after his meeting with the Council of Eminent Persons at Ilham Tower yesterday.

He said the government had looked into this before.

“We have thought about it, but there is no suitable area to land the plane unless you extend the runway towards the sea.

“That would need reclamation which would in turn damage the environment,” he said.

According to Mohd Badlisham, the move will therefore not get the approval of the authorities as it would impact the island’s beauty. “There are, however, other options that they may need to be explored further in order to turn the idea into a reality,” he said.

The government planned to build a RM120 million airport in Kampung Paya on the island in 2003 under the previous administration, which would feature a 2,000m-long and 45m-wide runway to accommodate the Boeing 737 aircraft.

However, then Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat cancelled the project in 2009, citing environmental concerns.

Hence, on June 8, 2018, the Pahang Barisan Nasional government reportedly welcomed the willingness of Berjaya Group’s executive chairman to build it at its own expense.

Tan’s new airport is estimated at between RM1.1 billion and RM1.2 billion. The existing runway of the Kampung Tekek Airport stretches less than 1km and can only accommodate small aircraft carriers, such as the 12-seater single-engine.

Berjaya Air Sdn Bhd ceased its services at the airport several years ago.