by AFIQ AZIZ / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD
ANY proposal or intention to liquidate the holding of the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang to any private entity must be thoroughly reviewed, said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir (picture).
Zambry said any move to allow it to be operated by the private sector needs to be considered in depth because airports are the country’s strategic asset.
He was responding to several media reports stating that WCT Holdings Bhd has forwarded its proposal to the government to carve out Subang Airport from MAHB.
“As the chairman of MAHB, I take the news reports very seriously. Of course, any move to allow it to be operated by the private sector needs to be considered in depth, both in terms of security and defence, as well as ownership,” he said in a statement yesterday. “On behalf of all MAHB staff, I would like to ask the government to review the intention.”
Owned by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, MAHB handles 39 airports across Malaysia, of which five are international airports, 16 domestic and 18 STOLports (short take-off and landing), as well as one international airport in Turkey.
Zambry’s statement came following The Malaysian Reserve’s (TMR) report, which stated the demand from MAHB Unions nationwide for Zambry to support the continuity of the group in running the Subang Airport operations.
The three unions from Peninsular, Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan also urged MAHB to terminate WCT from being the Subang Skypark Terminal operator.
The letter from the unions to Zambry, dated May 6, was sighted by TMR.
According to the unions, Subang Airport’s earnings and its continuous demand have enabled MAHB to distribute the yields fairly among its 39 airports nationwide. “We demand Datuk Seri (Zambry) to stay united with us to stop this hijack,” the letter read.
Zambry noted that throughout its existence, Subang Airport has succeeded in triggering the development of an enormous aviation industry for the country, especially in the aerospace sector.
Hence, MAHB has paid special attention in planning the long-term direction of the airport under the framework of the Subang Airport Regeneration Master Plan.
The framework was to expand the airport terminal that is now already congested and develop an aerospace city ecosystem spanning from component manufacturing to plane services.
The airport — specified for small commercial planes and private jet use — was designed to cater to only 1.5 million passengers per annum (mppa).
It was reported that the number has burst to three mppa in 2019. The current work is expected to expand the capacity to cater up to five mppa within the next five years.
Zambry said Subang Airport is generally a strategic asset owned by the country, a historic national airport and close to the hearts of Malaysians.
He said MAHB, as the world’s largest group of airport operators in terms of the number of passengers handled, has an excellent track record in operating 39 airports throughout the country and one international airport in Istanbul, Turkey.
“In fact, several international airports operated by MAHB, both in Malaysia and Turkey, have often gained global recognition in terms of services, as well as growth in passenger numbers.
“I am confident that after listening to the views of MAHB and other related agencies, the government will not sacrifice a strategic asset of the country.”
Zambry, who was previously the Perak mentri besar, was appointed to the position on Aug 11 last year, replacing former Federal Court Judge Tan Sri Zainun Ali after the change in government in March.
In a statement last Friday, the Ministry of Transport said any proposal to redevelop the airport is still in the preliminary stage, and the final consideration and decision on the matter rest with the Cabinet.