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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Aero Mall to liven up Senai airport

Developments at the Senai International Airport in Johor are expected to accelerate following the set-up of the Aero Mall, a stand-alone and external airport mall.

"There are now RM2.5 billion worth of ongoing projects at the airport area," Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd (SATS) chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Sidik Shaik Osman told Business Times in an interview.

They include the RM2 billion Senai High Tech Park and the Free Zone Logistics and Aerospace Industrial Park.

Sidik said the Aero Mall, which will open on July 1, will set a new wave of development for SATS, which has 1,120ha surrounding the Senai airport.

The RM80 million, 173,338 sq ft mall is an integrated lifestyle complex adjoining the airport. It has 29 retail outlets and 30,000 sq ft piazza area. Some 70 per cent of the lots have been taken up for shopping, entertainment and dining facilities.
Sidik said that there are also plans for a cineplex and a digital complex.

"When we took over the airport in 2003, it was just a building to service passengers flying to Kuala Lumpur. We have expanded service to include flights to Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, and other facilities.

"Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia operate some 220 flights a week (out of the airport) and we hope that will be increased as we work to grow air traffic and passenger volume," Sidik said.

"Passenger traffic at the airport is now more than two million, including meeters and greeters. We expect this to double in the next three years."

Sidik expects new developments in Iskandar Malaysia in the state to contribute to the airport's growth.

Ongoing projects at Iskandar Malaysia include Legoland, premium factory outlets, universities and hospitals, targeted to be ready by 2012.

"Iskandar is expecting some four million visitors a year. We think this will increase air traffic and passenger volume. The airport can handle up to 4.5 million passengers a year before it requires any expansion."

On the Senai High Tech Park and the Free Zone Logistics, Sidik said that SATS might undertake a fund-raising exercise, in the form of internal funds and loans, to get the projects moving.

He is ambitious about both projects and is confident that they will attract investors.

The high-tech park has drawn interest from investors in the US, Europe and China who are in various sectors, including semiconductor and solar energy.

There are confirmed investments from China's EQ Solar Technology International Sdn Bhd, which will invest US$500 million (RM1.6 billion) to produce solar modules, and leading industrial gas provider MOX-Linde Gases Sdn Bhd, which plans to set up an industrial gas separation plant.

"We have incentives to attract investors. Those who come into the Iskandar region will enjoy low income tax, among other things," Sidik said.

Still, SATS may face stiff competion from Singapore, the KL International Airport and the Port Klang Free Zone, which are also aggressively attracting investors through various incentives.

By Business Times

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