How many airports do we need, Dr M asks

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today added to the chorus of criticism over the proposed low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Labu, Negeri Sembilan, insisting that the capacity at existing airports is sufficient.

"We have three airports in and around the capital city Kuala Lumpur, one in Sungai Besi, one in Subang and one in Sepang. Sepang was designed for 125 million passengers a year," he said referring to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Writing in his blog, Dr Mahathir alluded to the idea that news of a new LCCT less than two years after the one at KLIA was opened, was sheer madness by referring to "voices" he had been hearing.

"Right now the voices tell me we are handling only 25 million passengers. So we have capacity for another 100 million passengers more. But the voices said we will be building a new airport at Labu," he stated.

"After thinking up about raising buffalos in Langkawi, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must be congratulated for yet another great idea," he added to mock his successor.

He was referring to Buffalo Park Langkawi, said to be the current prime minister's brainchild.

The government yesterday gave government-linked company (GLC) Sime Darby the go ahead to develop the LCCT.

Sime Darby and local budget airline AirAsia Bhd had proposed to jointly develop and operate the RM1.6 billion LCCT which will be known as KLIA-East@Labu although this estimate does not include the 3,000-acre tract of land where it would be constructed.

Dr Mahathir sarcastically remarked that "the building of the airport should stimulate the economy. Somebody can make quite a bit selling land.

A GLC will get the job and contract it out to some lucky bloke. There will be a whole lot of other contracts to look forward to. It could even help with the coming recession."

Malaysia's fourth prime minister, whose 22 year administration saw vast development in the country, also made jibes at the location of the project.

Referring to the constant "free flights" promotion by AirAsia and the cost of getting to the airport, he said that "the distance to Kuala Lumpur would be longer but of course it would be nearer than Seremban and other parts in Negri Sembilan. But that's all right as you don't pay any fare for the flights, only for the fares to the airport."

"Maybe the Government can enlighten us why Sepang or even Subang is not suitable. Has the Sepang Formula One circuit taken up all the land so we cannot build any more facility in Sepang?" he said.