Kualanamu International Airport

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Kualanamu International Airport

Bandar Udara Internasional Kualanamu
A Batak-based turquoise-colored paper plane, along with text "Kualanamu: Airport of Indonesia."
Kualanamu International Airport Station.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerGovernment of Indonesia
OperatorPT Angkasa Pura II
LocationDeli Serdang Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Opened25 July 2013 (8 years ago) (2013-07-25)
Hub for
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL7.01 m / 23 ft
Coordinates03°38′32″N 98°53′7″E / 3.64222°N 98.88528°E / 3.64222; 98.88528Coordinates: 03°38′32″N 98°53′7″E / 3.64222°N 98.88528°E / 3.64222; 98.88528
Sumatra region in Indonesia
Sumatra region in Indonesia
KNO/WIMM is located in Medan
Location in Medan
KNO/WIMM is located in Sumatra
Location in Sumatra
KNO/WIMM is located in Indonesia
Location in Indonesia
KNO/WIMM is located in Southeast Asia
Location in Southeast Asia
KNO/WIMM is located in Asia
Location in Asia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 3,750x60m 12,303 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
Passengers12,245,116 (Increase 18.8%)

Kualanamu International Airport (Indonesian: Bandar Udara Internasional Kualanamu) (IATA: KNO, ICAO: WIMM) (often spelled as Kuala Namu[1] and informally abbreviated KNIA[2]) is an international airport serving Medan, Indonesia, and other parts of North Sumatra. It is located in the Deli Serdang Regency, 23 km east of downtown Medan.[3] Kualanamu is the third-largest airport in Indonesia after Jakarta Soekarno–Hatta and Bandung Kertajati, and the fifth busiest airport in Indonesia as of 2018, as well as the first Indonesian airport to receive four stars by Skytrax.

The airport was opened to public on 25 July 2013, handling all flights and services from Polonia International Airport, an airport located at the heart of Medan which is deemed dangerous. The airport was built on the former site of an oil palm plantation of company Perkebunan Nusantara II Tanjung Morawa.[4] The airport is expected to become the new international transit center in Sumatra and the western part of Indonesia. It is part of Indonesia's central government's program under "Masterplan to Accelerate and Expand Economic Development in Indonesia" (MP3EI)[5] and one of the strategies for the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASEAN-SAM), an open skies policy among member-countries in the Southeast Asia region starting 2015.[1]


The name for the airport was reported to be suggestions from the people of Karo to the government and later granted by the Ministry of Transportation.[6] The name consists of two words: 'Kuala,' a Malay and Indonesian word for 'river mouth;'[7] and 'Namu' or 'Namo,' the Karonese for 'deep sea.'[8] Thus, 'Kualanamu' means 'meeting point.'[6] Kualanamu is considered the very few airports not named after Indonesian heroes.[9] It could've also been inspired by Kuala Lumpur International Airport.[6]


Kualanamu Airport exterior from the left side.

Polonia Airport was the site of several accidents. It is located in the center of the city, giving a challenging takeoff path and a relatively short runway. The development of Kualanamu Airport initiated in 1991. In a visit to Medan, Azwar Anas, Minister of Transport at the time, stated that for the sake of aviation safety, a new airport would be developed outside of the city of Medan.[4]

Preparation of construction began in 1997, but the Asian Financial Crisis that started in the same year postponed the development of it. Demands for the new airport continued following the Mandala Airlines Flight 091 accident in September 2005 that occurred shortly after taking off from Polonia for Jakarta.[10] This accident killed the incumbent North Sumatran governor at that time Tengku Rizal Nurdin and his predecessor Raja Inal Siregar, who died a day later.[11] This accident also involved ground casualties with at least 50 casualties, as the airport is very close to overcrowded residential areas and the runway was only 3,000 meters, which although considered long for European standards, is short for Indonesian standards due to it being at a lower latitude from the equator, meaning it is warmer and as a result the air is thinner, which ultimately means that longer runway distances are needed.

All 1,365 hectares of land was acquired between 1995 and 1997 and with the certificate Exploitation Rights (Hak Pengelolaaan) No. 1 on 29 November 1999 and 100% of the land belonged to PT Angkasa Pura II. Between 1999 and 2006, some people used parts of the land illegally as agricultural land and PT Angkasa Pura II (AP II) offered them monetary compensation to move elsewhere. Construction resumed on 29 June 2006,[12] shortly before the first anniversary of the crash of Mandala Airlines Flight 091. Jusuf Kalla, vice President of Indonesia at the time, laid the first cornerstone.[13] This marked the construction of Kualanamu after several years with no progress. Computer renderings showing a T-shape design were posted on the company's website.[14] A visualization of the airport is also released.[15] It was then predicted that the airport would be completed by 2010.[16] With land acquisition as the biggest hurdle for this project, the airport's opening was delayed until 2013 due to lack of local government awareness.[17] On 22 July, a trailer for the airport was released.[18]

A soft opening to the public occurred on 25 July 2013. The airport's first commercial departure was a Garuda Indonesia flight GA181 bound for Jakarta at 05:00 WIB. The first international departure was Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ 8078 bound for Penang at 05:15 WIB. The first domestic arrival was Lion Air flight JT 397 from Banda Aceh at 07:00 WIB. The first international arrival was Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8079 from Penang at 07:30 WIB.

Kualanamu International Airport was officially inaugurated on 27 March 2014 by incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.[19]

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly dropped the number of passengers in the airport. From January to October 2020, the airport only served 187,696 passengers, compared to 2019, when they served 897,211 passengers, a 76.84% drop. For international flights, in September the airport only served 253 passengers, and 210 in October. From January to October, foreign tourists dropped from 934,932 to 216,525.[20] After months of restrictions, Kualanamu resumed all domestic routes on November; international flights are yet to be.[21]

Facilities and infrastructure[edit]

A curvy roof airport exterior with glass windows and the apron superimposed at the bottom.
The terminal exterior design, as seen from the apron.

The airport is Indonesia's third largest, after Soekarno–Hatta International Airport and the new Kertajati International Airport, with a 224,298 m2 passengers terminal[22] and will eventually have a capacity of 22 million passengers (2030).[23] Kualanamu Airport has an automatic baggage handling system, thus becoming the first airport in Indonesia which does not need baggage porters.[24]

The airport is equipped with a single 3,750 x 60 meter runway, and a 3,750m and 2,000m long parallel taxiway capable of accommodating wide-body aircraft, including category - F jets such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8, and Antonov 225.[25][26] It also includes an apron area measuring 664 m2 capable of handling 33 aircraft. It also has a 13,000 m2 cargo area that can handle 3 carriers with 65,000 tonnes/annum and 50,820 m2 parking capacity with 405 taxis, 55 busses, and 908 cars.[23] It covers 1,365 ha of land, 20 km northeast of Polonia airport, 3 km from the sea, and on a site of area 6,5 x 2,1 km.[27] Phase 1 of the new airport has a capacity to serve 8 million passengers annually, but at early 2014 has served 8.3 million passengers annualized. Phase 2 starts construction in mid-2015 to serve 25 million passengers.[28] Phase III expansion of the airport includes expansion of the runway to allow the airport to accommodate the Airbus A380, and expansion of cargo area to 24,715 square meters from 13,450 square meters at present, and expansion of passenger terminal to 224,256 square meters to increase the capacity from 9 million passengers to 17 million passengers annually, which starts in 2018.[citation needed] AP II also planned to develop a 200 hectare plot of land for commercial area outside the passenger terminal. The commercial area is built with an "airport city" concept with 3, 4 and 5 star hotels, a hypermarket, office building, hospital and movie theater.[29]

Currently, the ILS system in used is ILS CAT I for both Runway 05 and 23. Arrivals and departures are usually directed to Runway 23 while Runway 05 will be used pertaining to wind direction.

Airport hotel[edit]

A hotel located at 2nd floor named Horison Sky Kualanamu was built. It covers 7,000 square meters of area with the capacity of 140 rooms per se. Two other hotels, The Wing Hotel and The Crew, was also built.[30]


Airside facilities are controlled by the Indonesian government, while landside facilities would be owned by a joint venture with PT Angkasa Pura II, which is expected to provide $350 million as an initial investment in return for a 30-year lease, after which ownership would revert to PT Angkasa Pura II.[citation needed] The airport will be linked to the city of Medan by a $10.7 million railway project.[31] An 18 km highway is under construction improving the airport's road connection to the city of Medan. It will cost $1.5 billion and will have 4 interchange, 4 underpasses, 7 flyovers, and 3 toll gates.[32]

Series of Citilink check-in counters at the airport.

The airport is the first in Indonesia with a publicly accessible check-in area (current Indonesian airports restrict access to ticket holders with security at the gate), as in a much larger and more spacious check-in area than the existing airport.[33][34] The airport is designed by Wiratman & Associates, who had also designed several other new airports and office buildings in Indonesia.[35] Computer renderings showing a T-shape design were posted on the company's website.[14] Another rendering and masterplan can be found in Angkasa Pura II website.[36][37] A visualization of the airport is also released.[15] The Indonesian government hopes that Kualanamu "can compete with [Singapore] Changi, Bangkok, etc.," and making Kualanamu "an international hub."[38]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


AirAsia Kuala Lumpur–International, Penang
Batik Air Jakarta–Halim Perdanakusuma, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Jeddah,[39] Kuala Lumpur–International, Makassar, Penang
Citilink Banda Aceh, Bandung, Batam, Gunungsitoli, Jakarta–Halim Perdanakusuma, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Lhokseumawe, Padang, Padang Sidempuan, Pekanbaru, Penang, Sibolga, Yogyakarta–International[40]
Seasonal: Jeddah
Flynas Charter: Jeddah
Garuda IndonesiaBanda Aceh, Bandung, Batam, Gunungsitoli, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Jeddah, Medina, Padang, Palembang, Pekanbaru, Singapore
Indonesia AirAsia Bangkok–Don Mueang, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta,[41] Kuala Lumpur–International, Penang, Yogyakarta–International[42]
Lion Air Banda Aceh, Bandung, Batam, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Padang, Palembang, Pekanbaru, Yogyakarta–International[43]
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur–International
Saudia Jeddah, Medina
Singapore Airlines Singapore
Susi Air Blangkejeren, Blangpidie, Silangit, Tapaktuan
Super Air Jet Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta
Wings Air Dumai, Gunungsitoli, Jambi, Lhokseumawe, Meulaboh, Padang Sidempuan, Sibolga, Silangit, Simeulue, Takengon

Traffic and statistics[edit]

Overall Operational Statistics (data prior to 25 July 2013 are for Polonia (MES))[44][45][46][47]
Year Passengers movements Aircraft movements Freight movements
Busiest Domestic flight Out of Kualanamu International Airport by Frequency
Rank Destinations (operated by) Frequency (Weekly) Airline(s)
1 Jakarta, Special Capital Region
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport - Cengkareng, Banten
259 AirAsia, Batik Air, Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Super Air Jet
2 Batam, Riau Islands 77 Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air
3 Gunungsitoli, North Sumatra 63 Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air
4 Jakarta, Special Capital Region, Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport 35 Batik Air, Citilink
5 Pekanbaru, Riau 35 Citilink, Lion Air
6 Banda Aceh, Aceh 28 Citilink, Lion Air
7 Sibolga, North Sumatra 27 Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air
8 Bandung, West Java 24 Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air
9 Padang, West Sumatra 21 Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air
10 Palembang, South Sumatra 14 Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air
11 Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta Special Region 14 Citilink, Indonesia AirAsia
12 Lhokseumawe, Aceh 14 Citilink, Wings Air
13 Padang Sidempuan, North Sumatra 12 Citilink, Wings Air
14 Siborong-Borong, North Sumatra 8 Susi Air, Wings Air
15 Dumai, Riau 7 Wings Air
16 Meulaboh, Aceh 7 Wings Air
17 Jambi, Jambi 7 Wings Air
18 Simeulue, Aceh 7 Wings Air
19 Takengon, Aceh 7 Wings Air
20 Surabaya, East Java 7 Lion Air
21 Yogyakarta-International, Yogyakarta Special Region 7 Lion Air
Busiest International flights out of Kualanamu International Airport
Rank Destination Frequency
1  Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur International Airport - Sepang, Selangor
80 AirAsia, Batik Air, Indonesia AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air
2  Malaysia, Penang 80 AirAsia, Batik Air, Citilink, Indonesia AirAsia, Lion Air, Malaysia Airlines
3  Singapore 80 Garuda Indonesia, Singapore Airlines
4  Thailand, Don Mueang International Airport 80 Indonesia AirAsia
5  Saudi Arabia, Medina 5 Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Saudia
6  Saudi Arabia, Jeddah 3 Citilink, Flynas, Garuda Indonesia, Saudia

Ground transportation[edit]

Rail transport[edit]

One of the two Kualanamu ARS (Airport Railink Service) trains.

Train services are operated by PT Railink, a joint venture between PT Angkasa Pura II and Indonesian Railway. It is the first integrated airport rail link in Indonesia.[48] The trains were made in South Korea.[49]

The route runs from Medan Main Station beside the Merdeka Square to Kualanamu International Airport railway station, providing the fastest way to reach the airport, taking 30 minutes, and the return taking 30 to 47 minutes.[50]

In May 2014, a double-tracking from Medan to the airport began. This will cut time travel by at least 10 minutes.[51]


The airport is connected by the Medan–Kualanamu–Tebing Tinggi Toll Road, an expressway specifically made to connect the airport and city Tebing Tinggi and other parts of eastern North Sumatra, which is also part of the Trans-Sumatra Toll Road network.[52][53] An arterial road connecting the city of Medan and the airport were also built as an alternative.[18]


A state-owned bus company, Perum DAMRI, operates services to the airport. The DAMRI bus has only two bus shelters in Medan, on Gatot Subroto Road next to Plaza Medan Fair and at the Amplas bus terminal. It takes about 60 to 90 minutes to reach the airport (depending on departure point and traffic). 2 hours from more central Plaza Medan Fair are not uncommon. The fare is cheaper than a train ride to city. There is also a cab service which carries passengers to several destinations. Tour companies Paradep and Travel Nice Trans links the airport to Parapat via Pematang Siantar that is a main gateway to reach some popular destinations like Samosir Island and Lake Toba.[54]

Service Destination
Shuttle Airport Bus
Damri Amplas Bus Terminal Medan
Damri Plaza Medan Fair Medan
ALS Gagak Hitam (Ringroad) Medan
Almasar Kabanjahe Kabanjahe
Damri Stabat Stabat
ALS Binjai Super Mall Binjai
Paradep Sutomo St Pematang Siantar
Nice Trans Millenium ICT Center Medan
Nice Trans Sutomo St Parapat via Pematang Siantar


Taxi costs about twice that of train tickets. Taxi operators that bring passengers to the airport are limited to Blue Bird, KARSA, MATRA, and Nice Trans.[55] Grab and Go-Jek operate inside the airport.[56][33] CNN Indonesia criticized Sokerno-Hatta International Airport for falling behind Kualanamu in "halal"-ing online taxis.[57]

Regional hub[edit]

Kualanamu International Airport is plotted to be a Regional Hub as South Korea's Incheon International Airport brother airport, thus on 25 June 2012 an agreement has been signed of both party operators. Incheon's operator will assist Kualanamu's operator to become the regional hub with world-class standards.[58]

In early 2014, Flying Fox Airways is still processing the hub license.[59] On 1 May 2014, Indonesian flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia opened flight from Medan to Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport as an extension of the Hajj-special Makassar-Medan route.[60]


In June 2015, Kualanamu received a certificate from Skytrax as a "4-Star Airport", the first Indonesian airport to receive such title.[61] On 16 June 2016, the airport won the Diamond Award for the Service Quality Award under the 'International Airports' category by Angkasa Pura II.[62] In August 2019, the custom system of the airport received an accolade from the 2018 Innovation Competition by the Ministry of Finance, given by the Directorate General of Customs and Excise, along with Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.[63]


A Wings Air ATR 72–500 with its right wingtip broken.
PK-WFF, the Wings Air ATR 72-500 affected by the collision, as seen in its right wingtip.
  • On 18 May 2013, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-400 that was supposed to land on Polonia Airport, almost landed on Kualanamu instead. The plane did not land but the landing gear had been released. The pilot throttled the plane to TO/GA as soon as he realized it, and made it back to Polonia safely.[64]
  • On 24 April 2015, a JT303, Lion Air Boeing 737-900ER with the registration PK-LFT heading for Jakarta, had its engine on fire. Passengers were immediately evacuated via the emergency doors. Three people were reported to have bone fractures caused by jumping off the middle doors and were rushed to the nearest hospital directly. On 4:30pm, a plane was provided for the passengers to fly to Jakarta safely.[65]
  • On 3 August 2017, a wing collision occurred involving JT197, a Lion Air Boeing 737-900ER with the registration PK-LJZ from Banda Aceh Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport, and IW1252, a Wings Air ATR 72-500 with the registration PK-WFF heading for Cut Nyak Dhien Airport, a regional airport at the Meulaboh regency. Flight 197 tried avoiding the runway, but due to short distances, the collision occurred. Activities regarding flights in the airport were delayed for 20 minutes.[66]
  • On 26 September 2017 at around 12:30,[67] Citilink Flight 885 to Batam[68] has its A320-200's right wing covered in a bed of bees, caused a 90 minutes delay. The ground crew then sprayed powerful jets of water to the wing, cleaned the wing and scattered the bees. It was revealed that a logging activity near the airport broke the bees' habitat, thus refuging to the airport.[68]

See also[edit]


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