Tawau Airport

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Tawau Airport
Lapangan Terbang Tawau
Tawau Sabah Tawau-Airport-02a.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Government of Malaysia
Operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad
Serves Tawau Division, Sabah, East Malaysia
Location Tawau, Sabah, East Malaysia
Time zone MST (UTC+08:00)
Elevation AMSL 57 ft / 17 m
Coordinates 04°18′48″N 118°07′19″E / 4.31333°N 118.12194°E / 4.31333; 118.12194Coordinates: 04°18′48″N 118°07′19″E / 4.31333°N 118.12194°E / 4.31333; 118.12194
WBKW is located in East Malaysia
Location in East Malaysia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
06/24 2,685 8,809 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Passenger 1,218,616 (Increase 1.4%)
Airfreight (tonnes) 3,265 (Increase 14.8%)
Aircraft movements 14,396 (Increase 3.6%)
Sources: official web site[1][2]

Tawau Airport (Malay: Lapangan Terbang Tawau) (IATA: TWUICAO: WBKW) is an airport located 15 nautical miles (28 km; 17 mi) north east[2] of Tawau, a town in the state of Sabah in Malaysia. It is the second airport in Sabah with immigration counters for international flights. The new runway could cater for aircraft as big as Airbus series.

Like other airports in the country, Tawau Airport is under the management of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad.

Tawau airport is the nearest airport to the diving islands of Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai.


During the early days, Tawau airport was located on Jalan Utara, literally known as Northern road about 2 mi (3.2 km) away from Tawau. The airport was officially opened in 1968 by the former Transport Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Haji Sardon. It was only used to cater to small aircraft, such as Fokker 50.

However, on 15 September 1995, a Malaysia Airlines Flight 2133, a Fokker 50 from Kota Kinabalu touched down 500 m (1,600 ft) before the end of the 2,200 m (7,218 ft) long runway. While attempting to carry out a go-around, the aircraft crashed into a Malay village, Kampung Seri Menanti, causing 34 fatalities including two crew.[3] Another MAS Boeing 737-400 plane was skidded off the runway in October 2001 without any causing any injuries to the passengers.

New airport[edit]

At present, this airport is being expanded to accommodate medium wide-body aircraft with 2 aero bridges. In 2008, the airport handled 700,859 passengers, 19,328 aircraft movements and over 8,900 metric tonnes of cargo. The airport is able to handle over 1.8 million passengers per year.

According to a survey, the old airport has one of the shortest runways in the country. Soon, a new international airport was in the government blue plan to shift Tawau airport to a new location along Tawau – Semporna highway, 30 km (19 mi) from Tawau.

The airport was subsequently opened to public in December 2001. In year 2003, Tawau Airport was officially launched by the former Transport Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik. Tawau Airport became the second largest airport in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
AirAsia Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur–International
Malaysia Airlines Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur–International
Malaysia Airlines
operated by MASwings
Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tarakan

Traffic and statistics[edit]

Annual passenger numbers and aircraft statistics[4]


% Change


% Change


2003 551,168 Steady 2,701 Steady 8,368 Steady
2004 620,847 Increase 12.6 2,968 Increase 9.9 8,900 Decrease 6.4
2005 680,901 Increase 9.7 3,885 Increase 30.9 9,814 Increase 10.3
2006 660,331 Decrease 3.0 3,030 Decrease 22.0 9,215 Decrease 6.1
2007 736,646 Increase 11.6 2,134 Decrease 29.6 7,992 Decrease 13.3
2008 768,967 Increase 4.4 1,262 Decrease 40.9 8,546 Increase 6.9
2009 866,601 Increase 12.7 1,951 Increase 54.6 9,876 Increase 15.6
2010 897,848 Increase 3.6 3,045 Increase 56.1 10,845 Increase 9.8
2011 922,452 Increase 2.7 3,198 Increase 5.0 10,186 Decrease 6.1
2012 982,153 Increase 6.5 2,489 Decrease 22.2 11,087 Increase 8.8
2013 1,202,344 Increase 22.4 2,844 Increase 14.3 13,896 Increase 26.5
2014 1,218,616 Increase 1.4 3,265 Increase 14.8 14,396 Increase 3.6


An aerobridge in Tawau Airport

Tawau Airport is located at Balung, 3 km (1.9 mi) further in from the Pan Borneo Highway. Tawau Airport was to be built as the most southeast international airport in Sabah.

  • Runway

Tawau airport has a 2,685 m × 47 m (8,809 ft × 154 ft) long fully service runway, namely runway 06/24. Runway 24 is equipped with Instrument Landing System (ILS) while runway 06 doesn't.

  • Airport Terminal

The terminal is a one and a half stories building, which consists of two aerobridges, and its large apron can accommodate eight aircraft at one time.

  • Car Park

Open air car park is provided with 500 parking lots.

  • Police Station

An airport police station is located just at the opposite of the main terminal building.

  • Taxi and Town Shuttle Bus Service

Taxi coupon or town shuttle bus ticket to Tawau or Semporna can be bought at the respective counters inside the terminal.

  • Traffic and Passenger Flow

In 2008, 768,967 passengers went through the airport with 10,546 aircraft movements.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tawau Airport, Sabah at Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad
  2. ^ a b WBK - TAWAU at Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia
  3. ^ Aircraft accident Fokker 50 9M-MGH Tawau Airport (TWU) on 15 Sep 1995
  4. ^ "MAHB Annual Report 2014" (PDF). http://www.malaysiaairports.com.my/. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015.  External link in |publisher= (help)

External links[edit]