Kota Kinabalu International Airport

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Kota Kinabalu International Airport
Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu International Airport.jpg
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 (2014)
Passengers 6,792,968 (Decrease 2.1%)
Airfreight (tonnes) 23,769 (Increase 8.4%)
Aircraft movements 73,074 (Increase 8.1%)
Source: official web site[1]
AIP Malaysia[2]

Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) (IATA: BKIICAO: 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 2013, 6.9 million passengers passed through the airport, making it the second busiest airport in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The airport serves the city of Kota Kinabalu as well as the entire west coast of Sabah.

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 had been extended to 1,593 metres to enable the operation of Malayan Airways turboprop Viscount aircraft. In 1963, the runway was further reinforced and lengthened to 1,921 meters to cater for Comet 4 jet operations. Commercial flights and passenger arrivals gradually increased and a larger terminal building was needed. By 1967, Cathay Pacific Airways had begun operating a twice-weekly Convair 880 jet service between the airport and Hong Kong with 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 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.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a new 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 was known as 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 (see below), and in January 2007 the original terminal was rebranded Terminal 2, whilst the newer terminal became known as Terminal 1.

Expansion and renovation[edit]

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.[6][7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

Generally, flights operating into and out of KKIA are generally serviced by narrow-body aircraft. However, during school holiday seasons, airlines such as Dragonair[10] and Malaysia Airlines[11] may upgrade their flights to wide-body aircraft such as the Airbus A330-300 and the Boeing 777-200ER. 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.[12]


Check-in counters, Terminal 1
Check-in counters, Terminal 2

Terminal 1[edit]

Terminal 1 is the main terminal of KKIA. It can be accessed via Jalan Kepayan, Jalan Lintas and Jalan Putatan. 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, second floor: check-in counters and departures)
  • 9 aerobridges
  • 17 aircraft parking bays capable of accommodating wide and narrow body aircraft
  • 1,400 car parking bays

The first flight to depart at the new wing was MH2637 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.[13]

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 carriers, such as AirAsia. Sometime, it is called LCCT. Terminal 2 underwent a major renovation and extension, reopening on 1 January 2007 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007. It was completed 27 months ahead of schedule. Although it was renovated to serve low cost carriers, especially AirAsia, it is not a low cost carrier terminal (LCCT) per se as full service airlines are theoretically allowed to utilise the terminal.[14] 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]

Korean Air Airbus A300 on the tarmac
Dragonair Airbus A321 after landing
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, Wuhan (begins 22 January 2016)[15] 2
AirAsia Zest Manila 2
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon, Busan 1
Cebu Pacific Manila 1
China Southern Airlines Guangzhou (begins 1 December 2015)[16] 1
Dragonair Hong Kong 1
Eastar Jet Seoul-Incheon 1
Indonesia AirAsia Denpasar, Jakarta-Soekarno Hatta 2
Jin Air
operated for Korean Air
Seoul-Incheon 1
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Labuan, Perth, Sandakan, Shanghai-Pudong, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tawau, Tokyo-Narita 1
operated for Malaysia Airlines
Bandar Seri Begawan, Bintulu, Kuching, Kudat, Labuan, Lahad Datu, Lawas, Limbang, Miri, Mulu, Sandakan, Sibu, Tawau 1
Malindo Air Kuala Lumpur 1
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan 1
Shanghai Airlines Shanghai-Pudong 1
SilkAir Singapore 1
Spring Airlines Shanghai-Pudong 1

Traffic and statistics[edit]


Annual passenger numbers and aircraft statistics[17]
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


Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • 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. 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 KKIA.
  • 18 September 1993 – A 13.5 square-metre depression occurred at the edge of the runway, necessitating the airport's closure for 70 minutes.
  • 18 July 2003 – Dragonair flight 60 from Hong Kong, operated by an Airbus A330-342, encountered severe turbulence associated with Tropical Depression Koni whilst flying over the South China Sea. 12 crew members and 3 passengers were injured; of these, 2 crew members sustained serious injuries. The aircraft eventually landed safely at Hong Kong International Airport.
  • 8 November 2004 – AirAsia flight 104, operated by a Boeing 737-300 carrying 111 passengers and five crew, skidded while landing at KKIA. Three passengers – a five-year-old girl and two women – were injured while evacuating from the plane. They received outpatient treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu.
  • 14 December 2005 – KKIA 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 – The airport was closed due to malfunctioning runway lights, forcing the rescheduling or cancellation of several flights.
  • 10 October 2013 – A MASWings Twin Otter aircraft flying from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat with 16 persons on board crashed into a house at Kampung Sin San, less than 200 meters from Kudat Airport. The aircraft crashed after veering off the runway while making a second attempt to land at the airstrip in windy conditions. The co-pilot, Marc Joel Bansh (22) and passenger Tan Ah Chai (69) were killed while 14 others survived the crash.


  1. ^ Kota Kinabalu International Airport at Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad
  2. ^ WBKK – KOTA KINABALU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT at Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia
  3. ^ a b c Profile, Department of Civil Aviation, Sabah. Accessed 10 April 2007.
  4. ^ USAAF Chronology
  5. ^ timetableimages.com, Cathy Pacific 16 April 1967 system timetable
  6. ^ "Airport expansion of national interest: CM", Daily Express News, 12 April 2006.
  7. ^ Design and Build Contract – Upgrading of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport Project (Package 1 – Terminal Building and Landside Infrastructure & Facilities), WCT Engineering Berhad. Accessed 11 May 2007.
  8. ^ "KKIA to get ILS in 2014", Malaysian Insider,
  9. ^ a b "LCC terminal ready year end", Daily Express News, 23 May 2006.
  10. ^ "Airbus A330-300 in Kota Kinabalu"
  11. ^ "Airbus A330-300 in Kota Kinabalu"
  12. ^ "B787 Dreamliner Flight Schedule – Regional Services"
  13. ^ Kota Kinabalu International Airport, A-Z World Airports Online. Accessed 11 May 2007.
  14. ^ "MAHB targets 45.5 m in passenger traffic", The Edge Daily, 26 February 2007.
  15. ^ . Airlineroute.net. 27 October 2015 Adds Kota Kinabalu – Wuhan Service from late-Jan 2016 http://airlineroute.net/2015/10/27/ak-bkiwuh-jan16/title=AirAsia Adds Kota Kinabalu – Wuhan Service from late-Jan 2016 Check |url= scheme (help). Retrieved 27 October 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/90980
  17. ^ "MAHB Annual Report 2014" (PDF). http://www.malaysiaairports.com.my/. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 

External links[edit]