KUANTAN, The extension of the runway at the airport on Tioman Island, Rompin, near here, will bring in more tourists to the island, thus increasing the income of local residents.
Pahang Unity, Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Leong Yu Man said the current runway at the airport in Kampung Tekek, stretching only 850 metres long, could only accommodate an aeroplane with a load of a dozen passengers.
"The runway extension project will allow larger aircraft, such as the ATR aircraft which can carry 72 passengers to land on Tioman Island, as well as allow unlimited access for the aircraft to fly in as during certain seasons, like the monsoon, the ferry service is disrupted," she said when contacted by Bernama.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when tabling the 2024 Budget 2024 last Friday announced an allocation of RM47 million to improve passenger facilities at the Tioman Airport terminal and extend the existing runway to 1,300 metres.
Meanwhile, Tioman Development Authority general manager Datuk Idros Yahya said the extension of the runway, when completed, could increase the number of flights to the island as there are many airlines that use ATR 72 aircraft.
He said that currently, there were only four flights a week to Tioman Island departing from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor.
"A plane with a larger capacity allows us to target the presence of tourists from more places including Singapore or Batam, Indonesia, in addition to domestic flights such as from Penang and Kota Bharu, Kelantan,” he added
According to Idros, extending the runway will also minimises the environmental impact, compared to building a new airport. The existing airport has been in use since the 80s.
Meanwhile, a tourism operator on the island, Hadzeri Hamzah, 42, said that with the extension of the runway, aircraft would be able to fly into the island all year round, hence generating more income for local residents.
“Our income depends on tourists. If there are fewer tourists, there is less income. In November and December, there are fewer tourists as ferries cannot operate due to the rough seas, but with the extension of the runway, we can have more planes flying in,” he added.
In 2018, there was a proposal to build the Tioman International Airport in Kampung Genting, but last August, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad was reported to have said that the government would not proceed with the project because it involved land reclamation.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency