Dec 20 - By : P. Chandra Sagaran
IPOH: Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has rebutted allegations by Perak Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen that financial constraint was one of the reasons the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport here has yet to be upgraded.
"It is not due to finance or lack of commitment but rather the topography. As responsible politicians they should know the scenario better.
"The airport is surrounded by mountains at one end and adjacent to densely-populated areas," he said after witnessing the swearing-in of Ipoh Timur MCA division office bearers on Thursday.
Also present was Perak MCA chairman Datuk Kong Cho Ha.
"When we talk about extension, then the question of space is raised. Economic returns with the upgrading of the airport can only be achieved with sufficient flights, passengers and cargo volume," Ong said.
He said these problems must be first studied and addressed.
There must also be land available for extension while meeting the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
"It is not just saying we have the land and money but whether the airport has complied with the ICAO requirements which, among others things, would include the length of the runway."
Recently, state Public Transport Committee chairman Nga Kor Ming had asked the Transport Ministry to honour its promise to develop the under-utilised airport, failing which the task should be handed over to the state.