Tawau Airport expansion may start year end
Published on: Wednesday, March 06, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: Prospects are bright for the proposed expansion and development of the Tawau Airport to cater to the influx of tourists from China and other countries.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Christina Liew, said this after an inaugural official meeting with the Minister of Transport, Anthony Loke, at the Federal Government Administrative Centre, here, Monday.

“The Tawau Airport is the second largest airport in Sabah after KKIA. I am glad to have met the Minister of Transport. We have had a fruitful discussion,” she said.

During their discussion, she disclosed that in 2018, the Tawau Airport recorded 1.64 million passengers with 19.7pc growth, the fourth highest in terms of passenger growth after KLIA, Kota Kinabalu and Penang airports. 

“This means that the airport has exceeded its capacity of 1.4 million passengers commencing operations as a domestic airport in 2001.”

Liew, who is Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, said the ball is at Sabah’s feet and if everything goes smoothly as planned, commencement of works should take place by the end of the year.

Loke concurred with the Sabah Minister that Tawau is 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. The East Coast of Sabah has a huge potential for tourism development.

“Infrastructure development, especially for airports, will never go wrong. If your tourism product is there, it will even be easier. We (Government) are changing the whole landscape of the airport industry in the country. MAHB can have a Sabah cluster,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Transport Minister expressed support for Liew’s suggestion for Visa On Arrival (VOS) for tourist arrivals from China and India within a specific period. He, however, is in favour of having Visa Free facility to ensure that foreign tourists from China, India and Korea are hassle-free when entering the country.

Liew was accompanied by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, William Baya, Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board (STB), Ken Pan Ying On and General Manager of STB, Suzaini Datuk Sabdin Ghani. Also present were the Minister’s Private Secretary, Helen Muhammari, STB Senior Marketing Manager, Tay Shu Lan, MAHB Director (Stakeholder Relations & Regulatory Affairs), Datuk Abdullah Kadir Bacha and Senior General Manager (Commercial Services), Mohammad Nazli Abdul Aziz.

Earlier, Liew met with Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) Group Chief Executive Officer, Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin at the Malaysia Airports Corporate Office at KLIA.

Tawau tops the list of six airports in the country that have been earmarked for expansion and development.

He assured Liew that he is committed to the Tawau Expansion and Development Proposal for implementation as soon as possible.

Raja Azmi, who had earlier paid a courtesy call on the Minister in Sabah earlier, reiterated that the proposal encompasses 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.         



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