Union wants Subang Airport privatisation question settled

MAHB chairman Zambry had recently reaffirmed his commitment of not letting the airport fall under other parties, says union

THE proposal to carve out Subang Airport from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and privatise it out to WCT Holdings Bhd is on hold, and stakeholders are looking for the new government to make the call soon.

One of the stakeholders, the Malaysia Airports Workers Union (KESMA) said there has been no indication that the proposal submitted by WCT has been rejected, but they are holding on to the continued commitment by MAHB chairman Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir to keep it within MAHB.

KESMA president Hussin Shahar told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that Zambry had recently reaffirmed his commitment of not letting the airport fall under other parties.

“We had a meeting two weeks ago and the chairman, as well as the CEO Datuk Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, pledged that they will stand by the union. We are not letting go of the Subang Airport,” he said.

Hussin said the recent change in government, however, has made the situation fluid again, and political changes may result in boardroom changes as well.

“Whatever it takes, we want to reaffirm our stance that whomever takes over the post, or the ministerial position at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Ministry of Transport (MoT), Subang Airport must remain under MAHB jurisdiction,” Hussin said.

When asked about the union’s possible reaction should the proposal be approved, Husin said “we will cross the bridge when we come to it”.

In May, TMR reported that WCT, a property developer, via wholly-owned Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd which runs the Subang Airport Terminal, has put forward a re-concession plan of the whole Subang Airport under a RM3.7 billion redevelopment initiative.

The plan was highly criticised, as MAHB itself is working on a RM1.3 billion masterplan to regenerate Subang Airport into “more than just a city airport”.

MoT, in a response said it was a common practice for industry players to submit proposals to the government via an operating ministry to develop new or existing assets.

“In the case of Subang Airport, being a significant facility and major urban hub for Klang Valley residents, great care and deliberation is needed for the airport’s long-term future in the broader Malaysian aviation landscape,” said MoT.

The ministry said any proposal to redevelop Subang Airport was still preliminary and any final considerations and decision rest with the Cabinet.

WCT, in a brief response to TMR, stated that it cannot comment at this juncture.

An industry insider told TMR that the matter has been quiet since Zambry and MAHB made their reservations known to the government.

It is also understood that MAHB is proceeding quietly with its Subang aviation hub masterplan despite the privatisation proposal.

There have been no updates reported about the deal, while the union demands a final say on the said proposal.

Former air regulator Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi had previously warned that MAHB may effectively be “killed off” if the government reneges on its operating agreement (OA) with the airport operator by agreeing to the proposal.

He said it is crucial for the government to keep the OA terms or risk investors’ confidence in Malaysia.

Nungsari also acknowledged picks on Subang Airport must be made all through the standing working settlement and OA signed between the federal authorities and MAHB.

The settlement provides MAHB the mandate to deal with and hold airports, along with Subang Airport, until 2069.

TMR has contacted MAHB, Zambry and Khazanah Nasional Bhd for response.

All airport land belonged to the Federal Land Commissioner and assets owned by the government. Airport management was corporatised and then privatised to MAHB, which is a public-listed company.

The OA between the government and MAHB forms the commercial basis of MAHB, which sits under Khazanah’s purview of MoF.

By : AFIQ AZIZ – TMR

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