Kota Kinabalu International Airport

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Kota Kinabalu International Airport

Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kota Kinabalu
KotaKinabalu Sabah KKIA-01.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerGovernment of Malaysia
OperatorMalaysia Airports Holdings Berhad
ServesGreater Kota Kinabalu (also West Coast and Interior divisions of Sabah)
LocationKepayan and Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Focus city for
Time zoneMST (UTC+08:00)
Elevation AMSL10 ft / 3 m
Coordinates05°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
Sabah state in Malaysia
Sabah state in Malaysia
BKI /WBKK is located in Borneo
Location in Sabah State , East Malaysia
BKI /WBKK is located in East Malaysia
BKI /WBKK (East Malaysia)
BKI /WBKK is located in Malaysia
BKI /WBKK (Malaysia)
BKI /WBKK is located in Southeast Asia
BKI /WBKK (Southeast Asia)
BKI /WBKK is located in Asia
BKI /WBKK (Asia)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 3,780 12,402 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Passengers8,622,488 (Increase 7.7%)
Airfreight (tonnes)28,039 (Increase 2.4%)
Aircraft movements79,044 (Increase 7.9%)
Source: official web site[1]
AIP Malaysia[2]

Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) (IATA: BKI, ICAO: WBKK) is an international airport in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, Malaysia. It is located approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) southwest of the city centre. In 2017, 8 million passengers passed through the airport, making it the second busiest airport in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur International Airport. A medium-sized airport with good connections to most major aviation hubs across the Asia-Pacific region, the airport serves the city of Kota Kinabalu as well as the entire west coast of Sabah.


The airport 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 known as Jesselton at the time). Towards the end of the war, it suffered severe bombings by Allied Forces.[4] After the war, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) of North Borneo (now Sabah) took over the operation and maintenance of the airport.

Regular passenger service commenced in May 1949, with a weekly Malayan Airways flight from Singapore, via Kuching and Labuan; the route was extended to Sandakan in September 1949.[5] By 1950, the airport served as a stopover for a biweekly flights between Hong Kong and Labuan, via Manila and Sandakan operated by Cathay Pacific.[6][7] The domestic air service was further developed by Sabah Airways Limited in 1953, connecting the town to Sandakan, Kudat, Ranau, Keningau and Tawau.[8]

By 1957, the original grass strip runway was resurfaced with bitumen material and a new terminal was built.[3] In 1959, the runway had been extended to 1,593 metres to enable the operation of Malayan Airways' turboprop Viscount aircraft.

By 1963, the runway was further reinforced and lengthened to 1,921 meters to cater for Malaysian Airways Comet 4 jet operations. Commercial flights and passenger arrivals gradually increased and a larger terminal building was needed. By 1967, Cathay Pacific Airways operated a twice-weekly Convair 880 jet service between the airport and Hong Kong with an intermediate stop in Manila.[9]

In 1969, a British consultancy firm was appointed to formulate a Master Plan for a phased and organised development of KKIA over the next few decades. The master plan was submitted to the government with recommendations to:

  • reinforce and extend the runway to 2,987 metres to cater for Boeing 707 and 747 jet operations
  • build a new terminal complex and parallel taxiway connecting to the runway
  • provide navigation equipment, communication facilities and a modern light system for the runway

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

As a major economic and leisure hub in Malaysian Borneo, past operators at the airport include Air Macau, Airphil Express, Asiana Airlines, Australian Airlines, Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific, China Northern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Dragonair, Far Eastern Air Transport, Fly Asian Xpress, HK Express, Indonesia AirAsia, Korean Air, Lucky Air, Mandarin Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Jetstar Asia Airways, Shenzhen Airlines, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, South East Asian Airlines, South Phoenix Airways, Thai AirAsia, Thai Airways International, Thai Smile, Tiger Airways, TransAsia Airways, Uni Air, Vladivostok Air, Wings Air and Xiamen Airlines.

Terminal 2 was closed on 1 December 2015 and all airlines shifted their operations to Terminal 1.[10] There are plans to use Terminal 2 for cargo operations and general aviation.[11]

Expansion and renovation

In mid-2005, the Malaysian federal government approved major renovation and refurbishment works to the main terminal (Terminal 1) as well as a runway expansion project worth RM1.4 billion. The project saw the runway extended 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). Terminal 1 can accommodate four Boeing 747s, one Airbus A330, seven Boeing 737s, three Fokker 50s and three Dorniers at any given time. It has 12 jetways for passenger use.[12][13] The air traffic control tower, which had hitherto been attached to Terminal 1, was demolished and replaced by a stand-alone tower. Due to delays in upgrade works and disputes between the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia and the contractor responsible for the project, the runway extension and upgrading of the ILS (Instrument Landing System) was delayed to Q1 2014.[14]

Schematic map of the airport

As a result of this expansion, the airport is now able to accommodate the world's largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. It has also become the second largest airport in Malaysia, with an annual capacity of 12 million passengers – 9 million for Terminal 1 and 3 million for Terminal 2.[15]

Generally, flights operating into and out of KKIA are serviced by narrow-body aircraft. However, during school holiday seasons, airlines such as Malaysia Airlines[16] may upgrade their flights to wide-body aircraft, particularly the Airbus A330-300. Additionally, KKIA was the first airport in Malaysia to welcome the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by Royal Brunei during several product introductory flights in November 2013.[17] As to date, the largest aircraft to have utilize the airport are the Boeing 747-8,[18] B777-300ER[19] and Airbus A350 XWB.[20]


Check-in counters, Terminal 1
A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350 XWB in Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 is the newer and the main terminal of KKIA. It can be accessed via Jalan Kepayan, Jalan Lintas and Jalan Putatan located in the suburb or township of Kepayan. The terminal is capable of handling 9 million passengers per annum and is equipped with the following facilities:

  • 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 departures, 1 for VIPs and 1 for staff)
  • 36 immigration counters (16 for departures and 20 for arrivals)
  • 6 baggage carousels
  • 3 floors (Ground floor: arrival hall, first floor: airline offices and local departures, second floor: check-in counters and domestic/foreign departures)
  • 9 aerobridges
  • 17 aircraft parking bays capable of accommodating wide and narrow body aircraft
  • 1,400 car parking bays

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 first flight to depart at the new wing was MH2637 to Kuala Lumpur at 06:50 while the last flight at the old wing was at 00:25. Malaysia Airlines is the main operating airline in this terminal.[21]

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 was 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 served charter and low-cost carriers, the main airline utilizing the terminal being AirAsia.

In 2006, Terminal 2 underwent a major renovation and extension to accommodate low-cost carriers, reopening on 1 January 2007 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007. The works were completed 27 months ahead of schedule. It had 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 had the capacity to handle 3 million passengers annually.[15]

However, with limited expansion space and the congestion at Terminal 2, as well as to consolidate all airlines operations in one terminal, airlines at Terminal 2 was ordered to move to Terminal 1. The decision was opposed by AirAsia, and the airline refused to move despite a government directive to do so, missing the deadline five times as of 1 August 2015.[22] The issue was resolved when AirAsia agreed to move to Terminal 1 on 1 December 2015, and Terminal 2 was closed at midnight that day.[10] The terminal will be converted for cargo, charter, VIP flights and general aviation use.[11]

The Terminal currently serves for cargo operators such as Raya Airways and several General Aviation companies such as Weststar and Layang-Layang. Recently, during a state event with many VIP's in attendance, private jets on charter were moved to Terminal 2 to avoid congestion aircraft parking bays on Terminal 1. This includes a Boeing BBJ2 and B747-8i. [23]

Airlines and destinations


AirAsia Bangkok–Don Mueang, Bintulu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Johor Bahru,[24] Kota Bharu, Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuching, Kunming, Macau, Miri, Penang, Sandakan, Shenzhen, Sibu, Singapore, Taipei–Taoyuan, Tawau, Wuhan
Air Busan Busan[25]
Air Seoul Seoul–Incheon
Cebu Pacific Manila
China Southern Airlines Guangzhou
Eastar Jet Busan, Seoul–Incheon
Firefly Penang
Indonesia AirAsia Denpasar/Bali (resumes 31 January 2022), Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta (resumes 24 December 2021), Makassar (begins 08 January 2022)
Jeju Air Muan, Seoul–Incheon
Jin Air Seoul–Incheon
Loong Air Xi'an[26]
MASwings Kudat, Labuan, Lahad Datu, Lawas, Limbang, Mulu
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuching, Perth, Sandakan, Shanghai–Pudong, Taipei–Taoyuan, Tawau, Tianjin,[27] Tokyo–Narita[28]
Seasonal: Penang
Malindo Air Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuching, Sandakan, Tawau, Tianjin,[29] Wuhan
Seasonal: Chengdu, Xi'an
PAL Express Zamboanga[30]
Philippines AirAsia Manila
RB Link Bandar Seri Begawan[31]
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan
Scoot Singapore[32]
Shanghai Airlines Shanghai–Pudong
Spring Airlines Shanghai–Pudong
XiamenAir Fuzhou, Xiamen[33]


MASkargo Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur–International, Shanghai–Pudong
Raya Airways Kuala Lumpur–Subang

Traffic and statistics


See source Wikidata query and sources.

Annual passenger numbers and aircraft statistics
Year Passengers
% 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
2014 6,792,968 Decrease 2.1 23,769 Increase 8.4 73,074 Increase 8.1
2015 6,573,461 Decrease 3.2 24,768 Increase 4.2 71,209 Decrease 2.6
2016 7,263,339 Increase 10.5 28,764 Increase 16.1 70,138 Decrease 1.5
2017 8,006,446 Increase 10.2 27,372 Decrease 4.8 73,237 Increase 4.4
2018 8,622,488 Increase 7.7 28,039 Increase 2.4 79,044 Increase 7.9
Source: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad[34]


Busiest Flights Out of Kota Kinabalu International Airport by Frequency as of July 2019
Rank Destination Frequency
1 Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur 208
2 Sabah Tawau 71
3 Sabah Sandakan 53
4 South Korea Seoul 42
5 Sarawak Kuching 39
6 Sabah Lahad Datu 35
7 Labuan Labuan 28
8 Johor Johor Bahru 21
8 Singapore Singapore 21
8 China Guangzhou 21
8 Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan 21

Accidents and incidents

  • 6 June 1976 – A chartered Sabah Air aircraft carrying several government ministers crashed in nearby Sembulan upon descending towards the airport, killing 11 passengers including the then-Chief Minister of Sabah Tun Fuad Stephens.[35]
  • 4 September 1991 – A chartered Grumman Gulfstream II aircraft crashed into a hill while on approach to the airport, killing all 12 people on board.[36]



  1. ^ "Malaysia Airports". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  2. ^ WBKK – KOTA KINABALU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT at Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia
  3. ^ a b c Profile Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Department of Civil Aviation, Sabah. Accessed 10 April 2007.
  4. ^ "USAAF Chronology:". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  5. ^ Ivor Kraal (15 May 1949). "Singapore Skyline". NLB. The Strait Times. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Singapore Skyline". eresources.nlb.gov.sg/. The Strait Times. 14 May 1949. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  7. ^ Colonial Reports - North Borneo 1951. London: Her Majesty Stationery Office. 1951. p. 77.
  8. ^ Colonial Reports - North Borneo 1953 (PDF). London: Her Majesty Stationery Office. 1954. p. 127.
  9. ^ timetableimages.com, Cathay Pacific 16 April 1967 system timetable
  10. ^ a b Sario, Ruben (30 November 2015). "KKIA Terminal 2 to close from midnight". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Airasia must relocate from KKIA'S 'land-locked' terminal 2, says MAHB". The Sun Daily (Malaysia). 17 September 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Airport expansion of national interest: CM" Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Daily Express News, 12 April 2006.
  13. ^ Design and Build Contract – Upgrading of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport Project (Package 1 – Terminal Building and Landside Infrastructure & Facilities) Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, WCT Engineering Berhad. Accessed 11 May 2007.
  14. ^ "KKIA to get ILS in 2014" Archived 6 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Malaysian Insider,
  15. ^ a b "LCC terminal ready year end" Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Daily Express News, 23 May 2006.
  16. ^ "Photo: 9M-MTG (CN: 1318) Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-323 by ChinJH". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Book International Flights to Asia - Royal Brunei Airlines". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  18. ^ "Photo: V8-BKH (CN: 673) B747-8i by Ahmad Sallehuddin A.Sahak". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Photo: HL8250 (CN: 37650) B777-300ER by ChinJH". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  20. ^ "MAS Airbus A350 conducts test flight to KKIA". The Borneo Post. 10 January 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  21. ^ Kota Kinabalu International Airport, A-Z World Airports Online. Accessed 11 May 2007.
  22. ^ Yeong, Eva (17 September 2015). "AirAsia to stay put at KKIA Terminal 2". The Sun Daily (Malaysia). Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  23. ^ "Sultan Johor, Brunei antara tetamu majlis perkahwinan anak KM Sabah". Berita Harian (Malaysia). 17 September 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  24. ^ https://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/btn20060105115924331/
  25. ^ "Air Busan schedules Kota Kinabalu service from May 2019". Routesonline.
  26. ^ Liu, Jim. "Loong Air adds Xi'An – Kota Kinabalu service from late-Jan 2020". Routesonline. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  27. ^ http://www.routesonline.com/news/38/airlineroute/273838/malaysia-airlines-files-tianjin-preliminary-schedule-in-s18/
  28. ^ "Find a Flight | oneworld". www.oneworld.com.
  29. ^ "Malindo Air adds Kota Kinabalu – Tianjin from mid-Jan 2019". routesonline.com.
  30. ^ "PAL Express adds new regional routes in late-March 2020". routesonline.com.
  31. ^ "Regional Service (RB Link)". Royal Brunei Airlines. Archived from the original on 13 August 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  32. ^ Lim, Sean (22 November 2018). "Frequent fliers on some SilkAir routes will soon have to fly Scoot, SIA announces ahead of merger". businessinsider.sg. Archived from the original on 30 October 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  33. ^ "Xiamen Airlines schedules new SE Asia service in W18". Routesonline. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  34. ^ "Malaysia Airports: Airports Statistics 2018" (PDF). malaysiaairports. 2 April 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  35. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident GAF Nomad N.22B 9M-ATZ Kota Kinabalu Airport (BKI)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  36. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Grumman American G-1159 Gulfstream II N204C Kota Kinabalu". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 1 August 2019.

External links