Kota Kinabalu International Airport

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Kota Kinabalu International Airport
Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kota Kinabalu
Aerial view of Kota Kinabalu International Airport.jpg
Aerial view of the airport
WMO: 96471
Airport type Public
Owner Government of Malaysia
Operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad
Serves Kota Kinabalu
Location Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Hub for
Time zone MST (UTC+08:00)
Elevation AMSL 10 ft / 3 m
Coordinates 05°56′41″N 116°03′31″E / 5.94472°N 116.05861°E / 5.94472; 116.05861Coordinates: 05°56′41″N 116°03′31″E / 5.94472°N 116.05861°E / 5.94472; 116.05861
BKI is located in East Malaysia
Location in East Malaysia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 3,780 12,402 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 6,929,692
Passenger change 12–13 Increase18.5%
Aircraft movements 67,601
Movements change 12–13 Increase15.8%
Source: official web site[1]
AIP Malaysia[2]

Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) (IATA: BKIICAO: WBKK) is the major airport serving Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, Malaysia. The airport, located approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) southwest of downtown Kota Kinabalu, is the second busiest airport in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur International Airport, handling 6.9 million passengers in 2013. It is the main international gateway into Sabah and the island of Borneo.

The new Terminal 1 building has 64 check-in counters for international and domestic flights, as well as 17 aircraft parking bays capable of accommodating both wide and narrow-body aircraft. The terminal building can handle up to 3,200 passengers at any given time.

The Departure Hall column head design is inspired by the 'Wakid' basket design. A 'Wakid' is, in Sabahan tradition, a symbol of preparing for a meaningful journey. Some ethnic patterns of the Rungus and Bajau ethnic groups are also incorporated into the design of the floor tiles. The floor size at Level 1 is 24,128 sqm, Level 2 is 18,511.4 sqm and Level 3 is 22,339 sqm, providing sufficient space for all passengers. The new terminal has also been configured with 12 aerobridges.


The airport first began as a military airfield built by the Imperial Japanese Army during World-War II.[3] It was then known as Jesselton Airfield (Kota Kinabalu was previously known as Jesselton). Towards the end of the war, it suffered severe bombings by Allied Forces until the surrender of the Japanese army in 1945.[4]

After the war, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) of North Borneo (now Sabah) took charge of the operations and maintenance of the airport. In 1957, the original grass strip runway was resurfaced with bitumen material and a new terminal was built.[3] By 1959, the runway was extended to 1,593 metres long to enable the operation of Malayan Airways turboprop Viscount aircraft. In 1963, there was the reinforcement and further expansion of the runway to 1,921 meters long to cater for Comet 4 jet operations. Commercial flights and passenger arrivals gradually increased and a larger terminal building was needed to accommodate this increase. By 1967, Cathay Pacific Airways was operating Convair 880 jet service twice a week between the airport and Hong Kong via an intermediate stop in Manila.[5]

In 1969 a British consultancy firm was appointed to formulate a Master Plan for a phased and organised development of KKIA from 1970 until 2000 and years beyond. The master plan was submitted to the government with the following recommendations:

  • To reinforce and expand the runway distance to 2,987 meters long to cater for Boeing 707 and 747 jet operations.
  • To build a new terminal complex and parallel taxiway which connects to the runway.
  • To provide navigation equipment, communication facilities and a modern light system for the runway.

Around the 1970s to 1980s, a newer terminal building was built on the other side of the runway. Almost all commercial flights were shifted to this newer and larger terminal. From then on until recently, the original terminal became known as Airport Lama ("old airport"). In 1992, the DCA of Sabah was corporatised, and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad took over management and operations of the airport.[3] Further expansion project began in 2006 for both terminals (see below), and in January 2007 the original terminal was rebranded Terminal 2, and the other became known as Terminal 1.

Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminal 1.

Expansion and renovation[edit]

In mid-2005, the Malaysian federal government approved a project for major renovation and refurbishment of the main terminal (Terminal 1) as well as runway expansion of KKIA worth RM1.4 billion. The project saw the expansion of the runway from 2,988 m (9,803 ft) to 3,780 m (12,402 ft) and the size of the main terminal increased from 34,000 m2 (370,000 sq ft) to 87,000 m2 (940,000 sq ft). The main terminal is capable to accommodate four Boeing 747s, one Airbus A330, seven Boeing 737s, three Fokker 50s and three Dorniers at any given time. It will also have 12 jetways for passenger use.[6][7] The air traffic control tower which was then attached to the main terminal is demolished and later replaced by a separate, stand alone tower. Due to delays in upgrade works and disputes between DCA of Malaysia and the contractor for the extension the whole project including the runway extension and ILS(Instrument landing system) has been delayed to Q1 2014.[8]

Schematic map of the airport

When the overall project is completed, the airport will be able to accommodate the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft. The airport will also become the second largest airport in Malaysia with an annual capacity of 12 million passengers – 9 million from Terminal 1 and 3 million from Terminal 2.[9]

The current largest scheduled aircraft to operate in and out of the terminal is the Boeing 777-200ER from Royal Brunei[10] and Malaysia Airlines(Seasonal Domestic upgrades and annual Haj).[11] The Terminal also has upgrades during holiday seasons from Dragonair[12] and Malaysia Airlines[13] using the Airbus A330-300.

The terminal was also the first airport in Malaysia to accommodate the brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Royal Brunei with demo product introductory flights commenced during November 2013 for a short period.[14]


Terminal 1[edit]

Terminal 1 is the main terminal of KKIA located at Kepayan area. It can be accessed via Jalan Kepayan, Jalan Lintas and Jalan Putatan. Currently, the main tel is undergoing a massive renovation and expansion. When it's completed, the terminal would be capable of handling 9 million passengers annually compare to its previous capacity which is 2.5 million passengers annually. It also features duty-free shops, other shops, lounges, travel agents, restaurants, and many others.

Terminal 1's new wing (phase 1) was completed and opened for commercial use on 19 August 2008 while the other wing (phase 2) was closed for renovation and is expected to complete by May 2010. It will also have a place for small aircraft passengers. After the whole terminal was completed, the first wing will be accommodating international flights while the second wing will be for domestic flights. After completion, Terminal 1 would be equipped with:

Lobby hall, Terminal 2
  • 64 check-in counters for international and domestic flights
  • 2 baggage x-ray check-in machines and 5 hand luggage x-ray machines (3 for departure, 1 for VIP and 1 for staff)
  • 36 Immigration counters (16 for departures and 20 for arrivals)
  • 6 baggage carousels
  • 3-floor level (Ground floor: Arrival Hall, First Floor: Office and Airline company, Second Floor: Check-in counter and departure hall)
  • 9 aerobridges
  • 17 aircraft parking bays capable of accommodating both the wide and narrow body aircraft
  • 1,400 car park and dedicated parking area

The first flight to depart at the new wing was MH 2637 to Kuala Lumpur at 0650 hours while the last flight at the old wing was at 0025 hours. Malaysia Airlines is the main operating airline in this terminal.[15]

Terminal 2[edit]

What is today Terminal 2 used to be the original terminal building of the airport when it was first built. It is accessed via Jalan Mat Salleh in Tanjung Aru and is located on the other side of the runway from Terminal 1. Terminal 2 is for charter and low cost carrier. Sometime, it is called LCCT. Terminal 2 has recently undergone a major renovation and extension and it re-opened on 1 January 2007 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007. It was completed 27 months ahead of schedule. Although it is renovated to serve the low cost carriers, namely AirAsia, it is not a low cost carrier terminal (LCCT) as that of Kuala Lumpur International Airport's LCCT, as here, other full service airlines may utilise the terminal.[16] It has 26 check-in counters for domestic and international flights and 6 parking bays for B737 and A320 aircraft as well as 7 luggage x-ray machines, a VIP room and 13 immigration counters. The terminal has the capacity to handle 3 million passengers annually.[9]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

A MASwings ATR72-500 being parked in the airport.
A Korean Air Airbus A300 on the tarmac.
A Dragonair Airbus A321 after arrival in Kota Kinabalu International Airport
Airlines Destinations Terminal
AirAsia Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Jakarta-Soekarno Hatta, Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Miri, Penang, Sandakan, Shenzhen, Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tawau 2
AirAsia Zest Manila 2
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon, Busan 1
Cebu Pacific Manila 1
Dragonair Hong Kong 1
Eastar Jet Seoul-Incheon 1
Indonesia AirAsia Denpasar, Jakarta-Soekarno Hatta (begins 28 January 2015)[17] 2
Jin Air Seoul-Incheon 1
Malaysia Airlines Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Labuan, Perth, Sandakan, Shanghai-Pudong, Tawau, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita 1
operated for Malaysia Airlines
Bandar Seri Begawan, Bintulu, Kuching, Kudat, Labuan, Lahad Datu, Lawas, Miri, Mulu, Sandakan, Sibu, Tawau 1
Malindo Air Kuala Lumpur 1
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan 1
SilkAir Singapore 1



Traffic and statistics[edit]


Annual passenger numbers and aircraft statistics[18]
% Change
% Change
% Change
1994 2,096,241 Steady 24,270 Steady 40,608 Steady
1995 2,554,181 Increase 21.8 29,537 Increase 21.7 43,882 Increase 8.0
1996 2,622,190 Increase 2.7 23,099 Decrease 21.8 45,726 Increase 4.2
1997 2,732,146 Increase 4.2 37,203 Increase 61.1 49,148 Increase 7.5
1998 2,393,431 Decrease 12.9 27,942 Decrease 24.9 38,716 Decrease 21.2
1999 2,752,207 Increase 15.0 27,087 Decrease 3.1 40,634 Increase 5.0
2000 3,092,326 Increase 12.3 27,347 Increase 1.0 41,411 Increase 2.0
2001 3,036,196 Decrease 1.8 24,887 Decrease 9.0 40,157 Decrease 3.0
2002 3,256,212 Increase 7.2 28,112 Increase 13.0 44,528 Increase 10.9
2003 3,302,366 Increase 1.4 25,638 Decrease 8.8 44,748 Increase 0.5
2004 3,918,201 Increase 18.6 27,191 Increase 6.1 52,352 Increase 17.0
2005 3,975,136 Increase 1.4 25,473 Decrease 6.3 51,824 Decrease 1.0
2006 4,015,221 Increase 1.0 28,356 Increase 11.3 52,055 Increase 0.4
2007 4,399,939 Increase 9.6 35,638 Increase 25.7 52,047 Decrease 0.01
2008 4,689,164 Increase 6.6 34,532 Decrease 3.1 54,317 Increase 4.4
2009 4,868,526 Increase 3.8 25,079 Decrease 27.4 53,554 Decrease 1.4
2010 5,223,454 Increase 7.3 26,733 Increase 6.6 55,241 Increase 3.2
2011 5,808,639 Increase 11.2 28,534 Increase 6.7 59,638 Increase 8.0
2012 5,848,135 Increase 0.7 23,563 Decrease 17.4 58,366 Decrease 2.1
2013 6,929,692 Increase 18.5 21,922 Decrease 7.0 67,601 Increase 15.8
1H 2014[19] 3,463,482 Increase 9.7 TBA Steady TBA Steady


Incidents and accidents[edit]

Check in Hall, Terminal 2
  • 6 June 1976 – A chartered Sabah Air carrying government ministers crashed in nearby Sembulan upon descending towards the airport killing 11 passengers including the then Chief Minister of Sabah Tun Fuad Stephens. The crash became known as the "Double Six Tragedy".
  • 6 September 1991 – An executive private executive jet with 10 Americans and two Britons on board crashed into the jungle near Hulu Kimanis, Papar, about 50 km from here.
  • 16 November 1991 – Three policemen perished after their 11-seater Pilatus Porter Royal Malaysian Police aircraft crashed at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
  • 18 September 1993 – A 13.5 square-metre depression occurred at the edge of the runway the airport had to closed for 70 minutes.
  • 18 July 2003 – On Dragonair flight 60, an Airbus A330-342 from Hong Kong to Kota Kinabalu encountered severe turbulence associated with Tropical Depression Koni over the South China Sea. 12 crew members and 3 passengers were injured, of which 2 crew members sustained serious injuries. The aircraft landed safely at Hong Kong International Airport.
  • 8 November 2004 – On AirAsia Flight 104, the Boeing 737-300 plane carrying 111 passengers and five crew skidded while landing. Three passengers – a five-year-old girl and two women – were injured while evacuating from the plane and received outpatient treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
  • 14 December 2005 – The Kota Kinabalu International Airport was closed for a few hours after an AirAsia plane burst a tire on landing. There were no injuries in the 10.30pm incident.
  • 25 October 2012 – KKIA was closed Thursday night after the runway lights malfunctioned, forcing several incoming and outgoing flights to be cancelled or rescheduled and leaving many passengers stranded.
  • 10 October 2013 – A Maswings Twin Otter aircraft from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat with 16 person on board crashed into a house at Kampung Sin San barely 200 meters from the grassy airstrip of Kudat. Co-pilot, Marc Joel Bansh, 22 and passenger Tan Ah Chai, 69 were killed while 14 others survived the crash. The aircraft crashed after veering off the runway while making a second attempt to land at the airstrip amid windy conditions.


External links[edit]