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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Malacca gets nod for RM65m runway extension

The Malacca state government has received the green light from the federal government to extend the runway at Batu Berendam Airport, which is slated for completion in six months.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam said that the extension at the airport, which will be renamed Malacca International Airport, will cost RM65 million.

The extension is to accommodate larger carriers like Boeing B737 and Airbus A320, in line with its goal of making the historical state a top tourist destination.

"The runway will be extended to 2,200m from 1,800m now. It will cost RM65 million and the state will take a loan from the federal government for this," Mohd Ali said.

This is in addition to the RM135 million grant given to renovate and refurbish the airport, which is operated by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd.

Mohd Ali said budget carrier AirAsia has indicated that it will fly to three destinations in Sumatra, Indonesia, namely Pekan Baru, Bukit Tinggi and Medan, from Malacca, once the runway is ready.

"After that, AirAsia plans to fly to Penang and Langkawi and a year after that to Jakarta, Palembang, Balik Papan and Kuching (from Malacca)," he said after witnessing an agreement-signing ceremony between Casa del Rio (M) Sdn Bhd and Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd, and Sin Seong Hin Sdn Bhd.

"Firefly will also be coming in. We now only have Riau Airlines (operating at the airport)," he said, adding that he hopes other charter flights will also operate out of Malacca International Airport.

Mohd Ali said the state recorded a total of 7.2 million tourists last year, of which 6 million were domestic tourists. In the first two months of this year, Malacca has already welcomed 600,000 visitors.

He added that some 70,000 foreign patients sought medical treatment at the state.

"This is only 0.1 per cent of the 7 million rich people who are staying in Sumatra. We need to focus more on Sumatra ... with the new Malacca International Airport, we hope more patients will come here," he said.

By Business Times

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