KLIA aeropolis set to be significant airport city in ten years

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur International Airport's (KLIA) mega property development project, 'KLIA Aeropolis', has immense potentials to emerge as a significant airport city in Asia in the next five to
10 years.

Prof John D. Kasarda, director of the Centre for Air Commerce of University of North Carolina's Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, said KLIA, with good connectivity to the city, and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd's (MAHB) systematic implementation of components of the aerotropolis concept, will drive the success of KLIA Aeropolis.

"There are no real risks to KLIA developing into a major aerotropolis as the airport area has so much land," Kasarda told Bernama in an interview.

Kasarda, known as the 'Father of Aerotropolis', said KLIA's position as a major aerotropolis will also depend on the amount of investment it attracted.

"In the past, airports were mainly perceived as transportation hubs. But today, it has evolved into a much more broader concept as a business, leisure and medical destination termed as aerotropolis," he said.

KLIA Aeropolis has a huge landbank of 8,966 hectares. Over 2,428ha has been developed. Under the KLIA Aeropolis masterplan, 2,731ha has been approved for commercial development.

The project, which will have commercial business district, free commercial zone, theme park, hotels, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions and natural conservation and green tourism zones, is expected to be completed within the next five to 10 years.

MAHB general manager of corporate planning, Randhill Singh, said the company has been cautious and systematic in its approach in developing the landbank at KLIA.

"Timing is also the key in any real estate development, and today we see strong interest in the land, in line with the population growth and the fruition of surrounding development plans," he said.

KLIA, considered the 27th busiest airport in the world by passenger volume, also handled 39.9 million passengers in 2012 and was expected to grow between seven and 10 per cent this year, he said.

"Given all these positives, we believe the time is now ripe for some very exciting developments to commence," he said.

Randhill said selecting the right developer with experience and repute as well as access to funding, and also being able to work well with them were critical considerations to ensure a successful execution of investment.

"The KLIA Aeropolis development is expected to contribute significantly to MAHB's stated goal of diversifying its revenue base to achieve 60 per cent of its revenue from non-aeronautical sources," he said.

Meanwhile, Alex Kirby, executive vice president of Airport Cities, UBMLive London, said Malaysia was in a good position to compete as it has good connectivity, efficient infrastructure and well-educated workforce, all of which were key ingredients for a successful airport city development.

He said the type of businesses in airport city tended to be high value-added businesses such as companies that make electronic components that could be shipped by air from airports.

In this respect, Kirby said, Malaysia could look at high-technology industries, alternative energy and electronics components parts and just-in-time manufacturing.

UBM Live is the organiser of the Airport Cities World Conference and Exhibition 2013 which was held in the City of Ekurhuleni, South Africa from April 24 to 26. - Bernama

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