Construction work for the extension of Sandakan Airport in Malaysia has started and is expected to be completed by mid-2021.

The project includes the extension of the current runway from 2,133m to 2,500m and the construction of a new taxiway, which will connect the runway to the parking apron.

Expansion of the current aircraft parking apron, as well as the relocation and installation of associated approach lighting and runway equipment, will also be undertaken.

The project is expected to have a duration of around 18 to 20 months.

According to the Borneo Post, Sandakan Member of Parliament Vivian Wong Shir Yee has said that state and federal ministries will work together to complete the project on time.

Shir Yee said: “We are collaborating closely with various stakeholders, the Ministry, Tourism Malaysia, Sabah Tourism Board, Malaysia Airport, airlines, local tourism players and media to promote Sandakan so that we can get more airlines to serve Sandakan as soon as the runway project is done.

“Going by the current growth trend, we will need to embark on the terminal expansion by the time the runway extension is completed to cater to the air travel demand in the district. We certainly look forward to usher in a new era of air travel to and from Sandakan soon.”

The project was introduced by former Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when he visited Sandakan in March 2017.

It is expected to boost the tourism and income for the region by permitting international flights to land.