Penang needs a new airport or expansion of the existing one if the state is to receive more tourists.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) said the Penang International airport in Bayan Lepas could use an additional runway and there was extra land available for the purpose, and hoped the ministry will consider the state's request.
Arrivals, he said, are expected to hit between 5.2 million and 5.5 million by the end of this year. However, the airport has a capacity to support arrival of only five million.
"Arrivals increased from 8-9% last year to 14% this October with 4.4 million tourists coming in. We expect the numbers to hit 5.5 million by year end.
"The state government is worried the airport will not be able to handle the tourist traffic when we see another 10% increase in tourist arrivals annually. This will bring congestion and discomfort to visitors and tarnish the international reputation of Penang and Malaysia," he said.
Lim also complained about flooding at the airport after heavy downpours, and said a letter had been sent to the chairman of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah.
He said the airport car park was also flooded, which could be due to a flawed drainage system.
"I hope immediate action will be taken as failure to do so will attract negative reactions from the people, jeopardising Penang and the country's image," he said.
The airport underwent an extensive facelift that cost RM250 million in recent years. The expansion project, wrapped up a year ago, saw an increase in the airport's capacity from 3.5 million to 5 million, as well as additional parking bays for planes and cars.
However, the airport was hit with minor floods in September and earlier this month heavy rain caused the airport driveway to be flooded. - November 28, 2013.