Malaysia air hub targets regional role

Malaysia air hub targets regional role

Malaysia's only independent airport operator says work on its new air freight terminal at Senai Airport in southern Johore state is 30 percent complete, and when operational early next year will handle up to 40,000 tons a year.

The 13-million-ringgit ($3.4 million) interim site is key to a billion-ringgit project by Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn. Bhd. to make the airport a regional logistics hub.

Part of that plan includes wooing business away from nearby Singapore Changi airport, much as Malaysia's Port of Tanjung Pelepas did with sea cargo. A spokesman at Senai said it aims to lure 20 percent of air cargo business away from Changi over the next 10 years.

The interim site is able to handle a full 747 freighter turnaround each day and a small number of narrow-bodied passenger services.

Business will begin Nov. 1, after the company officially takes over management of the airport from Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd.

"There is an urgent need to upgrade the current cargo facilities, so we can quickly serve the region's major cargo players who want to use Senai Airport as a regional base," said company director Mohamad Sidik Shaik Osman.

- P.T. Bangsberg in Singapore