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KXP AirportCity / Kulim Airport, Malaysia


In May 2019 Free Malaysia Today reported that the Kedah government had earmarked 600 hectares of oil palm estate in the county of Sidam Kiri for a new airport called Kulim International Airport. Sidam Kiri is in the Kuala Muda District in the state of Kedah. Sungai Petani is the largest town in Kedah. A Sungai Petani Municipal Council spokesman confirmed that the airport would be built in Sidam Kiri although the exact site had yet to be determined. Sidam Kiri is largely composed of oil palm plantations, paddi (rice) fields and villages, surrounded by low rolling hills. There are many cottage industries such as wood carving and basket weaving. Cultural facilities include a Siamese Buddhist temple and shaman shacks. It was reported that news of the airport project met with support from local people who expressed hope it would bring more jobs and business for them. A farmer fully supported the project and said that locals should be given the chance to participate in the side projects arising from construction of the airport. He said “I hope the state government will talk to us and hear us out on what we think”. An assemblyman said the airport could bring an economic boom to Sidam Kiri and surrounding towns and that Kedah Menteri Besar (Chieaf Minister) Mukhriz Mahathir was in talks with local growers to prepare for international export of their crops via the new airport. At the state assembly the previous month Mukhriz said the airport had been included in the draft Kuala Muda District Local Plan (Replacement) 2035 which had been on display for public feedback since 1st April. The Kedah government appointed KXP AirportCity Holdings (KAHSB) to manage and coordinate construction on Kulim Airport [1].

On 28th August 2019 a leaked presentation from Kedah’s Budget 2020 dialogue revealed that the proposed Kulim International Airport (KXP) would sit on a 17 square kilometre plot of land and have two runways. The Star newspaper said that it had obtained the leaked presentation from a closed-door dialogue with Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir and senior public servants and reported that KXP’s development would be financed by sale of an 18sq km plot of land around the proposed airport site.[2] In November 2019 Free Malaysia Today reported that profiteers were trying to cash in on land deals in connection with the proposed Kulim airport. The Kedah state government had not appointed third parties to negotiate with landowners on the value of their property. Mukhriz Mahathir said the involvement of private valuers who were not certified by developers of government-linked companies was extremely regrettable as they were taking advantage of landowners. He said: “They issued notices and invited land owners to attend a briefing on the land acquisition by the government (for the KXP airport development), but, in reality, they are not involved, they just want to become middlemen.” After handing over land title and temporary occupation licences to long-term residents Mukhriz said the third parties claimed to have complete information on the proposed boundary for the airport development, but in fact this matter was still being deliberated upon by the government. He advised landowners to deal directly with the state government adding that the value of relevant plots would be in line with the valuation set by the Valuation and Property Services Department. He said “When it (land acquisition) is undertaken for the benefit of the public, we don’t want the cost of land to skyrocket because in the end this will make a failure of the project…so we will all lose out.”[3]

KXP is a controversial project. In February 2020 Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, vice president of the MCA (Malaysia Chinese Association), a political party, described the project as a potential white elephant, mentioning Mattala Airport in Sri Lanka which has gained the moniker ‘the world’s emptiest airport’. Tan said the Kedah government had mooted KXP as a cargo airport, but that Malaysia does not need a new cargo airport located just 53km away for Penang Airport, the second busiest in the country which handles international freight. He suggested that instead of KXP the Federal Government should improve railway facilities between northern Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur. Mukhriz witnessed a signing ceremony between the CEO of KXP AirportCity Holdings and Aeroport de Paris Ingenierie (ADPI) the firm appointed to draw up a development master plan for KXP. He invited airport investors, operators and concession holders to invest in KXP saying “The risks of uncertainties regarding land acquisition have been settled.” Mukhriz announced that 3,982 hectares of land had been gazetted to KXP and the Federal Government had approved a “large loan facility” for Kedah to acquire the land, currently belonging to private owners [4].

On 19th February 2020 residents of Pantai Cicar village were preparing to protest against the Kulim Airport project. Some residents were feeling sad because land they had occupied for almost 100 years, since the time of their ancestors, would be lost as it was earmarked for construction on the airport. They said their village, that might be taken for the project, contained a mosque they had built and the cemeteries where their ancestors were buried. A committee called on Pantai Cicar residents wanting to protest to come in large numbers to show their support and defend their village from being used for Kulim Airport. A photograph showed a group of residents painting wording on a protest banner.

A notice for a protest rally against Kulim Airport / KXP AirportCity was published. Translated into English the notice reads:

Kulim Airport project protest rally

Date : 28 Feb 2020

Day : Friday

Time : 2.15

Place : Junction into Pantai Cicar village, Sungai Petani

Why is the village affected???

Do not take our village[5]

The protest against KXP took place on 28th February 2020. About 300 residents of Pantai Cicar gathered in front of the mosque to protest against the proposed land acquisition in the village. Mohd Rizal Abdul Ghani, chairman of Jawatankuasa Badan Bertindak Kampung Pantai Cicar, a village action committee, said he had received a notice listing the land lots to be taken for the KXP project, on 10th February. He said the earmarked land including the entire land of the village which contained more than 200 houses, a mosque and cemetery. He said the village was established by their ancestors almost 100 years ago and that villagers were worried that if the project was implemented it would affect the future of residents whose main livelihoods are from rubber tapping, working on oil palm plantations and self employment. Mohd Rozal said the villagers did not object to development and progress but hoped that the project would be implemented in a planned manner without involving village land. A memorandum containing almost 1,000 residents’ signatures was to be handed over to the state government soon. In addition to Pantai Cicar several nearby villages were also listed in the proposed land acquisition, including: Kuala Sedim, Jerung, Kemumbong, Lubuk Kiab, Batu Pekaka and Tanah Licin. The local government and housing committee chairman said the state government would investigate and review the project’s impact on the environment, saying planning was just beginning and there would be a discussion session [6].

A video of the 28th February protest against taking Pantai Cicar village land for Kulim Airport shows a large gathering of people. Some of the banners at the protest written in English read:


Basic Data

Name of conflict:KXP AirportCity / Kulim Airport, Malaysia
State or province:Kedah
Location of conflict:Kuala Muda
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Manufacturing activities
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

In July 2014 newly appointed Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai stated that the Transport Ministry would consider the proposed new Kulim Airport Project. Malaysia’s State Chief Minister revealed the construction cost of the proposed airport was estimated at USD500 million, covering land acquisition, infrastructure developments and two runways. In August 2014 the Ministry of Transport announced it would conduct an independent feasibility study on the airport proposal. The Northern Corridor Implementation Agency (NCIA) would undertake a similar assessment on the airport proposal after receiving approval from the Economic Planning Unit. In December 2014 Kedah Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Mukhriz Mahathir said the Kedah State Government planned to construct an ‘aerocity’ at the proposed Kulim Airport; an industrial and business area located on the 600 hectare airport precinct would “accommodate all industries related to air transportation”. In March 2015 Mukhriz said Kulim Airport would initially operate as a cargo facility. The project was still at a preliminary stage and subject to Federal Government approval. In February 2019 Mukhriz said Kedah state had received Federal Government approval to establish a company called KXP AirportCity Holdings (KAHSB) to coordinate and manage development of Kulim Airport.[8] KAHSB is fully owned by the state government via the Kedah Development Corporation (PKNK).

Mukhriz made a speech at Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre in March 2019 in which he said that a Northern Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub would be set up in Kedah, following the signing of seven memorandums of understanding (MoU) between Mentri Besar Kedah Incorporated (MBI Kedah), the Kedah State government investment arm, and four Malaysian companies. The companies were Global Aerospace Sdn Bhd, AeroPlans Asia Sdn Bhd, UA Aerospace Sdn Bhd and TGAC Group. Mukhriz said that signing of the MOUs would result in construction of the Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub along with establishing final assembly facilities for Avic Harbin Y12 aircraft and MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) for the Avic Harbin A312E Helicopter.[9] In May 2019 Mukhriz said “we are planning to focus on aerospace industries through the creation of a new industrial park near the airport, which would see foreign investors coming in”. The state government said many parties from China and Europe had shown interest in building the airport.[1]

In August 2019 The Star newspaper reported that the proposed Kulim Airport (also referred to as KXP) would occupy a land area five times the size of Penang Airport. Mukhriz’s Penang counterpart Chow Kon Yeow expressed concern that Kulim Airport might steal Penang’s position as the northern gateway to foreign visitors and current position as Malaysia’s manufacturing hub. It was reported that construction of a new interchange along the North-South Expressway would be connected to the new Kulim airport.[2] A presentation leaked from Kedah’s Budget 2020 Dialogue showed the proposed KXP will have two runways and be situated on a 17sq km piece of land at the Kedah state border with Penang, with development financed by sale of an 18sq km piece of land around the airport site to developers and investors over a ten year period. The presentation detailed ‘sale of land bank through a master development together with KXP’. An announcement on the tender for environmental impact, social and traffic assessments was displayed on the KAHSB website and a tender calling for consultants to develop the masterplan for KXP AirportCity or Aerotropolis had closed on 31st July.[10]

Aeroport de Paris Ingeniere (ADPI) was appointed to draw up the Kulim Airport / KXP Aerotropolis Masterplan and a signing ceremony took place on 10th February 2020. In addition a number of consultants had been appointed for several mandatory studies, assessments and evaluation for the project. Mukhriz announced that 3,982 hectares of land for KXP Aerotropolis and development had been gazetted for public purpose under the Land Acquisition Act 1960. He said the gazette would ensure that development studies for KXP Aerotropolis could begin on the demarcated land parcels. A land caveat had been approved on 30th January 2020, following which at least 40 teams of surveyors had conducted topographical and geospatial survey works at the site. Mukhriz said “Other entities, such as the Valuation Department, the Land Office, and consultants will also enter the site this week. This gazette will ensure that the whole area will be exclusively used for the aerotropolis development”. He also said the Federal Government had agreed to provide a sizeable loan facility to the Kedah State Government for the purpose of funding KXP Aerotropolis land acquisition and that “This loan will enable the state government to expedite land acquisition, without having to wait for a private investor to come in first”.[11] Mukhriz said land acquisition for KXP had been finalized under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 which meant a block on any form of transaction in the area, and that the boundaries had been identified along with the landowners with whom negotiations would commence. The state government would manage land acquisition to avoid difficulties.[12]

On 2nd July 2020 Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, who began serving as Kedah Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) in May 2020, said he hoped the Federal Government would help fund an airport in Kulim and help build associated mixed development next to the airport. He said “The Kedah Aerotropolis in Sidam Kiri, including the airport, and the Sidam Logistics Aerospace and Manufacturing Hub, is what the state needs to push our economy to greater heights”. Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Economic Affairs, said the Federal Government would consider building the airport and related projects requested by the state under the 12th Malaysia Plan. He said the airport alone would cost over USD1.2 billion to build, with land acquisition costs constituting about half of this amount.[13]

In October 2020 Penang Chief Minster Chow Kon Yeow called for the Federal Government to clarify its approval of KXP, which had been announced by Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor on his Facebook page, where he said the Kedah government’s proposal to build an international airport in Kulim was one step closer to reality with plans being approved by the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC) which evaluates all large scale projects in the country. Chow begged to differ, saying that the NPPC had not given the go-ahead to begin the KXP project but had merely given a list of conditions that Kedah would have to comply with before beginning the project. In response Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said approval in principle is subject to further consideration by the Transport Ministry and other government agencies including the Department for Environment, the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM). Elaborating, Wee said the KXP proposal is also subject to the findings of the National Airports Strategic Plan (NASP) due to commence in 2021, for all existing and proposed airports. He added that the KXP project owner would be requested to provide pertinent information to NASP consultants, with realistic and accurate projection of passenger and cargo service demands, along with airlines that have committed to KXP.[14]

In November 2020 it was reported that Kedah was working closely with the NCIA to implement strategic high-impact infrastructure projects, including KXP, under the recently approved Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) Strategic Development Plan 2021-2025 (SDP). KXP was described as ‘an airport city that will be an integral part of the Kedah Aerotropolis economic region driven by intermodal connectivity focussing on cargo, logistics and industrial development’. KXP’s cargo facilities and the development of the aerotropolis will be complemented by the Sidam Logistics, Aerospace and Manufacturing Hub (SLAM). Project feasibility studies and land acquisition were nearing completion and preliminary works on basic infrastructure expected to begin in 2021.[15] The Kedah Aerotropolis page on the NCER website describes an aerotropolis as ‘a metropolitan subregion whose infrastructure, land use and economy are centred on an airport’. It states that the proposed 3,983 hectare Kedah Aerotropolis development will consist of Kulim International Airport (KXP) and SLAM. The projects aim to support the growth of e-commerce not just in the region but in Southern Thailand and accelerate advancement of high-tech industries such as the MRO subsector. The website states that ‘KXP has readily available land that can cater for its expansion for the next 20 to 50 years’.[16]

At a press conference in February 2021 Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor announced that a new company had pledged to acquire 4,000 hectares of land in Sidam Kiri to build Kulim International Airport (KXP). He said the new company had entered into a joint venture with KXP Airportcity Holdings Sdn Bdh and would develop the entire project. The company had been given six months to raise the RM2 billion (USD2,560,000) required to acquire the 4,000 hectares of land, for which land acquisition had already been approved. Sanusi said the state government had also approved an additional 14,000 acres (5,666 hectares) of land to be acquired by the government, upon request of the new company. A new special purpose vehicle (SPV) company would be created between a state government-linked company (GLC) and the new funder to negotiate for an airport licence from the transport ministry. the new SPV would also build the Sidam Logistics, Aerospace, and Manufacturing Hub, adjacent to the airport, to allow factories and logistical infrastructure to be built.[17]

On 24th February 2021 it was announced that ECK Group of Companies (ECK) was to enter into a partnership with the Kedah State government to develop the Kulim international airport (KXP) project. In a statement ECK said it would be directly involved as a strategic partner in the project, from construction to commissioning. Besides the dual-runway airport the partnership will also involve development of Kedah Aerotropolis and Airport City. ECK said a company would be established as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) responsible for development and financial aspects of the airport city sited on 4,046 hectares.[18]

Project area:3,982
Level of Investment for the conflictive project500,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:19/02/2020
Company names or state enterprises:KXP AirportCity Holdings (KAHSB) from Malaysia - Appointed by Kedah government to spearhead, manage and coordinate construction of Kulim Airport
Mentri Besar Kedah Incorporated (MBI Kedah) from Malaysia - Signatory of MoU for Northern Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub in Kedah, 28/03/2019
AeroPlans Asia Sdn Bhd from Malaysia - Signatory of MoU for Northern Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub in Kedah, 28/03/2019
Global Aerospace Sdn Bhd from Malaysia - Signatory of MoU for Northern Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub in Kedah, 28/03/2019
UA Aerospace Sdn Bhd from Malaysia - Signed a technical partnership with AVIC Harbin General Aircraft Industry Co., Ltd. and Menteri Besar Kedah to establish an aircraft final assembly facility for Y12 aircraft and maintenance, repair and overhaul facility (MRO) for AC312 helicopters in Kedah. Signatory of MoU for Northern Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub in Kedah, 28/03/2019
T-GAC Group (Tijan – Galaxy Aerospace Consortium) from Malaysia - Signatory of MoU for Northern Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub in Kedah, 28/03/2019
ADP Ingénierie (ADPI) from France - Appointed as consultant for Kedah Aerotropolis master plan
ECK Group of Companies (ECK) from Singapore - Entered into partnership with Kedah State government to develop Kulim International Airport, Kedah Aerotropolis and Airport City in February 2021[18]
Relevant government actors:Kedah State Government
Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA)
Ministry of Transport
Sungai Petani Municipal Council
National Physical Planning Council (NPPC)
Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM)
Economic Planning Unit
Federal Government of Malaysia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Jawatankuasa Badan Bertindak Kampung Pantai Cicar (Pantai Cicar village action committee)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Oil spills, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, vice president of the MCA (Malaysia Chinese Association), a political party, suggested that instead of KXP the Federal Government should improve railway facilities between northern Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur [4].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:At the time of the protest by Pantai Cicar villagers against land acquisition for KXP AirportCity on 28th February 2020 the local government and housing committee chairman said the state government would investigate and review the project’s impact on the environment, and that planning was just beginning and there would be a discussion session.[6] In October 2020 Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said project approval in principle is subject to further consideration by the Transport Ministry and other government agencies [14].

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Land Acquisition Act 1960 (Revised 1992)

[1] Small padi town earmarked for new Kulim airport, Free Malaysia Today, 22/02/2019

[2] Report: Leaked Kedah’s Budget 2020 presentation file shows Kulim airport to have two runways, Malay Mail, 28/08/2019

[3] Profiteers trying to cash in on Kulim airport land deals, Free Malaysia Today, 04/11/2019

[4] ‘Kulim airport may be white elephant’, Metro News, 15/02/2020

[5] Penduduk Bantah ‘Projek Kulim Airport’, BFM Media, 19/02/2020

[6] Bantah ambil tanah kampung untuk KXP [METROTV], Harian Metro, 28/02/2020

[8] Kulim Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)

[9] Mukhriz: Northern Aeropolis and Aerospace Hub to be set up in Kedah, Malay Mail, 28/03/2019

[10] Kulim airport to have two runways, The Star, 28/28/2019

[11] ADPI appointed as masterplan consultant for Kulim Airport, MalaysiaKini, 10/02/2020

[12] KXP terima penerbangan pertama 2024, BH ONLINE, 10/02/2020

[13] Kedah seeks federal help with new RM5 bil Kulim airport, Free Malaysia Today, 02/07/2020

[14] Wee: Kulim International Airport approved 'only in principle', New Straits Times, 30/10/2020

[15] NCER to implement human capital, high-impact infrastructure in Kedah under SDP 2021-2025., NST Business, 03/11/2020

[16] KEDAH AEROTROPOLIS, Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER)

[17] Company to inject RM2bil to acquire land for Kulim airport project, Free Malaysia Today, 17/02/2021

[18] ECK Group to partner with Kedah Govt in Kulim international airport development, The Edge Markets, 25/02/2021

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[7] Opposition to airport project, residents of Pantai Cicar objected to proposed construction of Kulim Airport in their village. Sinar Harian, 02/03/2020

Protest against taking village land for KXP, about 300 residents of Pantai Cicar gathered in front of mosque to protest land acquisition. Harian Metro, 28/02/2020

Meta information

Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded / Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) email: [email protected]
Last update17/11/2020
Conflict ID:5312



KXP protest notice

Notice calling for Pantai Cicar village protest against land acquisition for KXP AirportCity, BMF Media, 19/02/2020

Kulim Airport map

Proposed Kulim International Airport (KXP) map from leaked presentation from Kedah Budget 2020 dailogue, Facebook, 13/03/2019


Graphic showing two components of Kedah Aerotropolis: Kulim International Airport and Sidam Logistic, Aerospace & Manufacturing Hub (SLAM), Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) Malaysia

Sidam Kiri rice field

Padi field in Sidam Kiri, the area earmarked for Kulim Airport, FMT news, 22/05/2019

KXP AirportCity site map

Map of Kulim International Airport / KXP AirportCity, KULIM International Airport, Facebook, 01/09/2019

KXP Holdings / ADPI signing ceremony

KXP AirportCity Holdings appointed Aeroports de Paris Ingénierie (ADPI) to draw up development masterplan for Kulim AIrport / KXP Aerotropolis BH Online, 10/02/2020

KXP Holdings / ADPI signing ceremony

KXP AirportCity Holdings appointed Aeroports de Paris Ingénierie (ADPI) to draw up development masterplan for Kulim AIrport / KXP Aerotropolis BH Online, 10/02/2020

KXP protest

Sungai Petani residents protest KXP project Harian Metro, 28/02/2020

Proposed Kulim Airport site

Map of proposed Kulim Airport site showing 3 runways, NSTP/AMRAN HAMID, New Straits Times, 30/10/2020

KXP AirportCity indicted boundary

Digitised map of proposed boundary of KXP AirportCity, as indicated by site map, and location of Pantai Cicar village. The area is mostly farmland. Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM)