Jun 13, 2014

    Oil-palm land to make way for KL airport city


    MALAYSIA Airports Holdings plans to convert some oil-palm plantations surrounding Kuala Lumpur's main air terminal into attractions such as theme parks, concert halls and golf courses.

    A factory outlet venture with Mitsui Fudosan, Japan's biggest developer, will open in the area next year, and new towns have sprung up near the airport that will help the zone dubbed KLIA Aeropolis grow, chief financial officer Faizal Mansor said in an interview on Tuesday.

    Malaysia Airports has about 9,000ha of land in Sepang, where the international airport and a Formula One track are located.

    "I don't think any other airport in the world has got the kind of land bank that we have," Mr Faizal said.

    As the area gets more developed, "the airport then slowly becomes less and less a destination for passengers to take a flight, and more and more a destination by itself".

    Malaysia competes with its neighbours - including Singapore and Thailand - for tourism and foreign direct investment.

    The country opened the world's largest terminal for low-cost carriers last month.

    Sepang-based AirAsia, which has grown into the region's biggest budget airline in the past decade, has contributed to a doubling in visitors to Malaysia in that period.

    The country received 25.7 million visitors and collected RM65.4 billion (S$25.4 billion) in tourism receipts last year, according to Tourism Malaysia.

    The government targets 36 million tourists a year and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020.