Southeast Asia Airports Prepare for Traffic Boom

 - February 4, 2014, 9:23 AM
Controllers man their posts at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport’s ATC center.

Two of the fastest growing airports in Southeast Asia plan to invest in new communications and navigational systems to cope with increasing air traffic. Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport (MMOT) said it will invest $212 million to build a new air traffic control center at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to replace the 20-year old system at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, 15 miles outside the city. In Manila, officials have committed $1.1 million to replace malfunctioning 18-year-old Doppler omni-directional radio range and distance-measuring equipment at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with a communication surveillance/air traffic management system.

The planned investment in Malaysia includes the installation of non-transgression zone software for simultaneous dual-runway operations at KLIA.

Director general of the Department of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said his agency will call tenders for the project in late February or early March. Plans call for construction to start in the fourth quarter and conclude in December 2017.

Official projections call for KLIA to grow between 10 and 11 percent a year through 2018. The airport hosted 39.9 million passengers last year. KLIA2, the new low-cost carrier terminal capable of accommodating 45 million people annually, opens for operations on May 2 with a third runway.

Meanwhile, in Malina, plans call for a partnership of Philcox Philippines and Infra Australia to supply and commission the new air traffic management system.  An official at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Alfred Salvador, said the system will enter service in August.

The malfunctioning system has forced air traffic controllers at NAIA to divert some Manila-bound peak-hour flights to Clark International Airport (CIA), 50 miles outside the capital city. Once a U.S. military base that closed in 1992, CIA reopened as a civil airport three years later.

NAIA passenger traffic grew 8.8 percent, to 32.1 million, last year and forecasts suggest annual growth of 10 to 12 percent through 2018.