With the burgeoning number of tourists arriving at the Penang International Airport added with those from China due to several new direct flights, the State Exco for Tourism and Creative Economy YB Wong Hon Wai made a tour of the airport to make his own assessment.

Joining him was several stakeholders in the tourism industry, namely Tourism Malaysia Penang Director, Shahrul Aman, Dato Tony Goh Malaysian Association of Hotel (Penang Chapter), Ooi Cheok Yan chief executive officer Penang Global Tourism (PGT), Ms Carolyn Leong Penang chairman for the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) among others.

This exponential growth in arrivals has led to a congestion of tourists at the airport’s customs and immigration areas especially during peak hours. 

And on the heels of this, the Shenzhen Airlines is also expected to offer direct flights to Penang with effect July 27, 2024.

On hand to greet Wong were representatives from the Immigration Department, Customs Department and the Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB). 

Meanwhile, Wong posted on his FB page – “I visited Penang International Airport twice recently. Last Friday I inspected the international arrival and this morning at the international departure. I had a meeting with Malaysia Airport Holding Berhad, Airport Immigration, Customs Department and tourism industry players.

“We have 259 international flights arriving in December 2023 and 290 international flights arriving for May 2024. It is a growth of 12 percent. I was told the loading for the recent flights are good, meaning more passengers per flight. We received complaints from the passengers that waiting hours in the immigration queue is long.

“The bottleneck is at the Immigration counters. I highlighted this in the meeting and informed the Minister of Home Affairs when I met him at Sungai Bakap recently.

“I have also informed the State Immigration Chief. We must have full force at the counters all the time and not fill up gradually according to crowd size. Once the queue line is long, putting up full force at the counters will be late as the long crowd line is already formed. I have also suggested to the Minister to enable autogate for foreigners. Currently the auto gates are for Malaysians only. The Minister said he will direct his officers to study it.

“The peak day for international arrival will be Friday to Sunday. The peak day for international departure will be Sunday and Monday. The Airport Customs has installed 3 new luggage scanners and so in total four luggage scanners in operation. 

“Penang International Airport has exceeded its capacity. We need every agency to work together to handle the increase of passengers”, said Wong.

Anyway, while waiting for the new airport upgrading and renovations to be ready, doing what is within our control is a much welcomed and wise move.

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