31 C
Kota Kinabalu
Ahad, Julai 14, 2024

Reconsider the proposed expansion of Tawau Airport, Liew urges Federal Government

TAWAU: Tawau MP Datuk Christina Liew said she has been consistently pushing for the expansion of the Tawau Airport and for its status to be upgraded to that of an international airport since 2018.

As the second largest airport in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), it had recorded 1.64 million passengers in 2018 with 19.7pc growth.

The former Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment reiterated her call to the Federal Government to revisit Tawau’s application for an expanded Tawau Airport.

Liew had in March 2019 led a delegation to the Ministry of Transport to discuss the proposal which encompassed upgrading of the facilities at the airport, provision of a surau, increasing the number of immigration counters and improving the existing toilets, among other measures.

During the discussion, she had drummed home the fact that Tawau has a huge potential for tourism development, given its geographical position as the gateway to the eastern part of Sabah, especially to the world-class diving sites at Sipadan and Mabul off Semporna, and to the world-renowned Danum Valley in Lahad Datu.

“According to Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) at the time, Tawau topped the list of six airports in the country that had been earmarked for expansion and development.

“And I was assured that MAHB was committed to implementing the proposed project. Unfortunately, our application for expansion of the Tawau Airport was turned down.

“Still, I had in November last year urged the Federal Government to review the application in view of the anticipated influx of tourists to Sabah (once Malaysia had reopened its international borders), and to capitalise on Indonesia’s impending relocation of its capital to Kalimantan,” Liew said in a statement on Monday.

According to her, the airport can accommodate the A320 aircraft, which flew into the district before the Covid-19 pandemic, and had a passenger handling capacity of 1.4 million passengers. The facility exceeded its capacity in 2018 when it handled almost 1.7 million passengers and by 2019, it had handled 2.4 million passengers.

“The number is expected to grow with the accelerated development of East Kalimantan,” she added.