‘Study pros, cons of runway upgrade’

National 2 minutes, 50 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE prospects of allowing larger aircraft to land in Brunei’s sole airport have to be weighed before investing to upgrade the runway and other facilities, the Civil Aviation director said at a recent forum.

Pg Adnan Pg Badaruddin said safety, noise pollution and demand for such aircraft to land at the Brunei International Airport were among the concerns that had to be considered beforehand.

“We only allow certain aircraft to land in Brunei, not all aircraft, specifically the larger aircraft. It is not actually encouraged for those bigger aircraft to land in Brunei. Probably, (the Airbus) A380 will not be able to land in Brunei with the current restrictions that we have,” he said in response to a question.

The question was raised during the forum which discussed the viability of introducing a regional airlines to provide feeder services to Royal Brunei Airlines.

Historically, Brunei used to have the longest runway in the region, he recalled. However, the Brunei International Airport is today categorised as a “small” airport, compared to “big” airports such as Singapore’s Changi Airport and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“The number of passengers coming to Brunei in this airport is only three million per year, whereas Singapore is about 54 or 56 million per year. So by comparison, obviously we have limitations,” the civil aviation director said, assuring that it met the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

“Obviously as times change, new requirements develop. So we need to comply (with) new requirements,” he said. “We are implementing programmes that will (anticipate) future requirements.”

“If we are serious in encouraging larger aircraft to land in Brunei, we would like to see the prospects first before we start preparing the facilities to that standard. Otherwise it’s a waste of money producing something that nobody lands in Brunei.”

Pg Adnan added that this was an issue the Department of Civil Aviation would have to discuss with the business community and other stakeholders. “If they support it, then we can comply.”

He said any decisions would have to maintain safety at the airport. “Regardless of whether you want to grow the business in Brunei or outside Brunei, safety is always the top priority.”

The Brunei International Airport is currently undergoing a $150 million “modernisation” project that is expected to double its annual passenger capacity from 1.5 million to three million.

Due to be completed by the end of 2014, the airport will feature new counter check-in systems, baggage handling systems, more efficient passenger flows and immigration and customs channels, among others.

In April 2011, the Ministry of Communications and a local contractor signed a deal for a 30-month rehabilitation project of the airport’s runway and other facilities.

“We are going to improve the strength of the runway because we need to equip ourselves to (facilitate) the new aircraft. The project involves strengthening and rehabilitating the whole apron area and runway,” then Director of Civil Aviation Department Hj Omarali Hj Mohd Jaafar had said during the signing ceremony.

“Through this project, we will have more opportunities to offer more types of aircraft that wish to operate in Brunei as we are currently limited,” Hj Omarali had said.

“We have to limit the type of aircraft that flies into Brunei because of safety reasons. Once we have finished the project, we will be able to offer more (operators) to fly in,” he added.

The Brunei Times