Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Upgraded Malacca airport to boost health tourism

MALACCA: The newly upgraded airport at Batu Berendam is expected to receive 500,000 passengers within the next three years.

This figure is not far-fetched as the airport, which will be renamed Malacca International Airport by year end after a RM131.5 million upgrade, is targeted to boost the state as a hub for health tourism.

In citing an example, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said even with the old airport, the health tourism sector in the state had seen a steady increase in medical tourists, especially those from Singapore and Indonesia.

"Take the state-owned Putra Hospital for example. It recorded revenue of RM100 million from medical tourism packages last year compared with RM70 million in the previous year.

"This is why I foresee the airport playing a significant role in bringing in the medical tourists, especially from Sumatra, which has about 70 million people," Ali said after the soft launch of the new Batu Berendam airport terminal here yesterday.
Earlier, Ali, accompanied by Malaysia Airports Berhad managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid, received 26 tourists from Indonesia who arrived at the new terminal via Riau Airlines.

On the operations of the airport, Ali said Riau Airlines would fly to Batu Berendam once daily while Firefly, the low-cost carrier of Malaysia Airlines, would resume its operations from here to Singapore in September.

"AirAsia will only operate from here in November when the full length of the runway, which measures 2,135 metres, is completed."

Ali added that there had been a request from AirAsia to privatise the Batu Berendam Airport similar to the Senai International Airport in Johor.

"AirAsia proposed to take over the operations of this airport and we have no problem with that.

"However, any decision on this will have to be made by the Federal Government."

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