Govt repeats assurance on Subang Airport

 pic by TMR FILE 

THE government has again said that the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang remains under the management and operational oversight of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), despite an offer to privatise it remains on the table.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong told Parliament yesterday that the government has no plans “so far” to approve the acquisition or sale of any part of Subang Airport to any business or private entity.

“The rights and operation of Subang Airport remain as provided under the lease agreement given to MAHB to operate, manage and maintain, including the control of Subang Airport until the year 2034 (operating agreement) and 2067 (lease agreement).

“MAHB is responsible for expanding Subang Airports as an international aerospace hub as decided by the Cabinet on March 2, 2005,” Wee told the Dewan Rakyat in his Budget 2022 policy closing speech yesterday.

The assurance, however, comes on the heels of the departure of MAHB group CEO Datuk Mohd Shukrie Salleh, who is believed to have resisted the privatisation offer from WCT Holdings Bhd to take over the operations of the airport until 2092. The airport sits on a strategic piece of land ripe for property development.

Industry sources told The Malaysian Reserve that more leadership shake-up within MAHB is expected.

“This proposal has become quite a divisive issue not only among the workers, but also the board.

“It is also not unusual for new leadership to bring in talent they are comfortable working with,” a source said.

MAHB has announced the appointment of Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood as the new MD. Iskandar Mizal is not an unfamiliar name at MAHB, having been the firm’s GM between 1999 and 2003.

The issue of Subang Airport takeover came under scrutiny early this year following WCT’s proposal in May to take over the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, also commonly known as Subang Airport, and turn it into a city airport.

On June 25, 2021, the government said there had been no decision to sell Subang Airport despite media reports that such a proposal was being considered.

In separate statements, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport (MoT) stated that the government had no plans to sell any part of the airport to the private sector.

However, MoT noted that the government did not bar any parties from submitting proposals to redevelop existing projects or developing new assets.

Additionally, Wee told Parliament that the government has signed a new agreement with MASwings Sdn Bhd for rural air services (RAS) in Sabah and Sarawak for a six-year period from 2019 to 2024. This includes revenue rationalisation of services in line with a review by the Malaysian Aviation Commission.

Wee said the distribution of MASwings subsidies is implemented on an annual basis and not according to the route or state.

“Instead, allocations are channelled based on losses on overall operating costs and rental payments to lease the aircraft used to provide this service. It is the government’s policy to continue the operation of RAS to increase the accessibility of the population in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak to nearby towns.”

Wee said the government is still studying the financial and technical aspects of the implementation of both the High-Speed Rail (HSR) and the Light Rail Transit 3 projects.

“This is to ensure the project is viable, while giving maximum benefits to the economy and wellbeing of the people. For the HSR project, this matter is still under the consideration of the (Economic Planning Unit), Prime Minister’s Department,” he said.

On the status of the Gemas-Johor Baru Electrified Double-Tracking Project, the transport minister said as of Sept 25, 2021, the physical progress of the project has reached 81.1% and the project is expected to be completed on June 30, 2023.