Owing to the increasing passenger demand and the need to accommodate more international freight, The Ministry of Transport in Malaysia are all set to launch a 72million dollar upgradation at its Miri airport located in Sarawak. This expansion project is likely to begin by the second phase of the 11th annual Malaysian Plan in mid-2017 so that the airport can handle upto four million passengers and cargo services.
The announcement for this extension plan was made by the transport minister Mr. Datuk Lai after confirming of the opening of the newly extended apron along with a walk away that will be entirely covered and which costed the government a whopping RM68 million. Among the other services included in the upgraded airport, the airport will see a newly constructed separate arrival and departure halls which was not present in the airport until now. Other services like a covered walkaway and the extension of apron was completed last week and was open for public post that.
The expansion project will upgrade the Miri airport to the status of an international airport by constructing all the international facilities to meet rising air freight and passenger demands. This was necessary for an airport that handles more than 60 flights in a single day including those of Malaysian Airlines, Fly Emirates travelling via Kuala Lumpur, MA Swings and most importantly the budget carrier Air Asia. Not only this, Miri airport also sees some of the largest cargo operations through its popular cargo carriers: DHL Express, Neptune Air, Raya Airways and Cargo Express (new for Gading Saree).
The transport minister Mr. Lai expressed that the expansion and upgradation process for the Miri Airport would be somewhat easy as the airport already meets most of the international requirements and is even equipped with a few international facilities like separate immigration counters for international flights, among others. He also expressed his happiness over the expansion project as his requests for an additional car packing along with other international facilities were met through this project which would avoid overcrowding at the airport. A bigger airport will also mean catering to much bigger airplanes like the ATR turboprops.
The present airport has a design capacity of only two million passengers and with this project the capacity is expected to rise to four millions. The upgradation project is expected to begin early next year as soon as the finance ministry gives a green signal to the proposed project and the airport authority is thus, waiting for their approval.
A spokesperson from the government also mentioned that the construction of international facilities at the Miri airport will help boost their economy through an increased number of travellers and businesses being carried particularly between Sarawak and Southern China.
The decision of upgrading the airport was followed by the recent announcement of a direct scheduled flight between Hong Kong and Kuching.