Kuala Lumpur International Airport (IATA: KUL, ICAO: WMKK), or KLIA, is one of Southeast Asia's major aviation hubs. It is also Malaysia's main international airport. It is situated in the Sepang district, in the south of the state of Selangor, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. KLIA was built at a cost of about RM8.5 billion or US$3.5 billion.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport is capable of handling 35 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo a year in its current phase. As of 2006, it was ranked as the 13th busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic, and is the 7th busiest international airport in Asia. The complex handled 26,938,970 passengers in 2007, a 13.0% increase over 2005. In 2008, Kuala Lumpur International Airport handled 667,495 metric tonnes of cargo, which is a 2.2% increase compared to 2007. The increase in cargo volume made Kuala Lumpur International Airport the 27th busiest airport by cargo traffic. Also, KLIA was awarded a prestigious 4-star ranking by Skytrax, along with Zürich Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
The airport is operated by Malaysia Airports (MAHB) Sepang Sdn Bhd and is the airline hub or home base for Malaysia Airlines, MASkargo, AirAsia and AirAsia X. KLIA is also the stopover point on the kangaroo route for Malaysia Airlines.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport serves the Klang Valley Metropolitan Region, Greater Klang Valley, Shah Alam, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and South Perak. With the large catchment area, the airport has become one of the key economic strengths for the nation, where it is well connected via expressways to all parts of Peninsular Malaysia, highly industrialized areas like Shah Alam, and the information and communications technology hub, the Multimedia Super Corridor. It is one of the important components in the economy of Malaysia, as the airport is the main import-export center for the country.
The IATA airport code, KUL was inherited from the previous international gateway for Malaysia, Subang International Airport, which currently handles only turboprop aircraft, general aviation and houses a military air base.
The planning of KLIA began in 1990 when the government decided that the existing Subang International Airport (now Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport) could not handle future demand. Malaysia's Former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad was a prime driver behind the project, which was seen as an important component of the Multimedia Super Corridor.
After the move to KLIA, Subang Airport's Terminal 1 building was demolished. In 2007 however, Malaysia Airports entered into agreement to redevelop Terminal 3 of the then Subang Airport and is currently undergoing major transformation to become Subang Skypark, an integrated airport for turboprop and chartered planes surrounded by residential area and business park.
With the airport site spanning 100 km, it is one of the largest airport sites in the world. It is built on a piece of agricultural land and required no demolition of private property. The master plan of Kuala Lumpur International Airport involves constructing five runways, and two terminals accompanied by two satellite terminals for each terminal over three phases. Phase One development includes constructing one main terminal accompanied by one satellite terminal that is enough to accommodate 25 million passengers and dual full service runways. Under the implementation of Phase One, sixty contact piers, twenty remote parking bays with eighty aircraft parking positions, four maintenance hangars and fire stations will be built. Implementation of phase two and three will be expansions of the airport to include increasing number of passengers. Ultimately, the airport will be able to handle 100 million passengers per annum once all three phases are implemented.
With the workforce of 25,000 workers working 24 hours a day, the airport was built within four and half years. The airport was officially inaugurated public grand information completed renovated opened since on 27 June 1998, a week ahead of Hong Kong International Airport, but flights were shifted from Subang only three days later on June 30 in time for the 1998 Commonwealth Games. The first domestic arrival was Malaysia Airlines flight MH1263 from Kuantan (Kuantan Airport) at 7:10 am and first international passenger jet arrival was Malaysia Airlines flight MH188 from Malé (Malé International Airport) at 7:30 am while the first domestic departure was Malaysia Airlines flight MH1432 to Langkawi (Langkawi International Airport) at 7:20 am and first international passenger jet departure was Malaysia Airlines flight MH84 to Beijing (Beijing Capital International Airport) at 9am.
The inauguration of the airport was marked with problems. Aerobridge and bay allocation systems broke down, queues formed throughout the airport, and baggage handling broke down, with lost bags and waits of over five hours. Most of these issues were sorted out eventually, but the baggage handling system continued to be plagued with problems, and it was finally put up for a new complete replacement tender in 2007.
The airport also had to contend with the East Asian financial crisis, SARS, bird flu epidemic (Avian flu), the global financial crisis and recently the swine flu pandemic which decimated passenger traffic in Malaysia and the region. Passenger growth was negative during the financial crisis and airlines that had started flights to KLIA including All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Lufthansa (later reinstated) and Northwest Airlines, terminated their services due to unprofitability. The first phase of the airport was designed with a capacity of 25 million passengers per year but on the first full year of operations in 1999, it saw only 13.2 million. However, traffic did eventually increase with 21.1 million passengers recorded in 2004 and 23.2 million in 2005 — although this, too, fell short of the original estimate of 25 million by the year 2003.
The name Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was previously used as an alternative name for the then Subang International Airport which is now known as Subang International Airport (SIA) (now Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB)) in Subang.
Operations and infrastructure
KLIA features a number of modern design features that assist in efficient operation of the airport. It is one of the first Asia Pacific airports to become 100% BCBP (Bar Coded Boarding Pass) capable – one of several IATA Simplifying the Business (StB) projects now live at the airport in collaboration with Malaysian Airlines and SITA. The Air Asia head office is located on the KLIA property.
The Passenger Terminal Complex (PTC) was built with an emphasis on allowing natural light into the building. Thus, there is a huge expanse of glass throughout the building, and the spectacular roof has cut-outs for natural light to filter in. The PTC comprises three buildings - the Main Terminal Building, the Satellite Building and the Contact Pier. Besides the 80-room hotel at the Satellite Building, there is a 450-room 5-star Pan Pacific KLIA hotel a 10 minute (indoor) walk away. Shopping spots are available in an area encompassing 85,000 square metres. Currently, the retail space at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport stands at 63,644 square metres (685,060 sq ft). The airport operator plans to increase the retail space to 103,251 square metres (1,111,380 sq ft), an 62.2% increase in retail space. Malaysia Airports's retail arm Eraman will boost retail shops to 277 from 242 and add more food and beverage outlets to 99 from 88 presently.
As there are international flights operating out from the airport, therefore terminals of the airport are equipped with immigration processing facilities and security scanning for all passengers including domestic passengers. The Satellite terminal handles most of the international flights, while the main terminal building's contact pier handles domestic traffic, regional international flights and international flights routed to other hubs within Malaysia. Malaysia Airlines operate from both terminals, where main terminal building's contact pier is their preferred terminal for domestic flights. Conversely, low cost carries such as AirAsia Group of Airlines, Tiger Airways and Cebu Pacific operates domestic and international flights out of the low cost carrier terminal.
The initial passenger growth was below average due to Asian Financial Crisis and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 and the airport failed to reach its target capacity of 25 million passengers per annum (before the inclusion of low cost carrier terminal) by 2004. However, the recovery of Malaysia's economy boosted Kuala Lumpur International Airport's passenger movements, and the airport saw significant growth in traffic, hitting the 25 million passenger mark in 2007. In January 2008, the airport saw a growth of 8.3% in aircraft movements and 7.7% in passenger traffic to 2.17 million in January 2008 from 2.02 million in the same period last year.
Main terminal building and contact pier
The Main terminal building or Terminal 1 is located in between the two runways. The floor area of the terminal covers 336,000 square metres and the building consists of 39 square roof units, which enables future expansion of the building. There are a total of 216 check-in counters, located in 6 different islands, identified by the letters A – M (excluding I). Multi check-in services are available, designed for the use of all passengers arriving, departing or in transit. On 2 February, 2007, Malaysia Airports introduces 12 integrated self check-in kiosks (CUSS) for passengers. The first airline to use that system is KLM. A further 24 kiosks will be added later by the airport operator
The contact pier is the rectangular-shaped terminal that is connected to the Main Terminal Building. It serves as the domestic terminal for Malaysia Airlines. Some international flights are handled there as well. Previously it used to cater to low-cost carriers' passengers. At the north side of the pier, it can only accommodate narrow-bodied aircraft. In contrast, the south side of the contact pier can accommodate B737 and B747 or similar sized aircraft.
The Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad derives 65% of its total annual revenue from non-aeronautical sources, with 35% from commercial space rental and a percentage of sale receipts. There were plans to increase and maximize the Main Terminal Building's and Contact Pier's retail area however, the plan was postponed due to Visit Malaysia Year 2007.
The gates in Main Terminal Building's contact pier has alphabet prefix of A and B for domestic flights, and G and H for international flights.
Satellite terminal A
The 143,404 square metres (1,543,590 sq ft) satellite building accommodates international flights departing and arriving at KLIA. Passengers have to travel to the satellite building via the Aerotrain. There is a wide array of duty-free shops and prestige brand boutiques in the satellite building. This includes international brands such as Burberry, Harrods, Montblanc, Salvatore Ferragamo and recently, Mango has opened its first boutique at an airport in the Asian region. Among all international labels available within the terminal, some boutiques such as Harrods are only available in the airport. Liquor and perfumes are particularly popular, accounting for over half of total retail sales, followed by watches and tobacco products. A number of restaurants and international airlines' lounges are available as well as an Airside Transit Hotel.
Within the terminal, wireless internet (Wifi) is provided free of charge. The terminal also has prayer rooms, showers and massage service. Various lounge areas are provided, some including children's play areas and movie lounge, broadcasting movie and sport channels such as Star Movies. The terminal also features a natural rainforest in the middle of the terminal, exhibiting the Malaysian forests.
Under Malaysia Airports Berhad retail optimisation plan, the retail space in satellite terminal A will be further optimized to increase its revenue derived from commercial space rental and a percentage of sale receipts to 50% by year 2010 which currently stands at 35%. Some notable improvements that will be seen after the refurbishments will be the Jungle Boardwalk which will be the first of its kind in the world and larger mezzanine floor to accommodate F&B outlets and viewing galleries.
The gates in Satellite Terminal A have the prefix C.The Satellite A terminal has 27 boarding gates altogether.
Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)
The first purpose built Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) was specifically built at KL International Airport to cater to the growing passengers of the low cost airlines, especially the passengers of Malaysia's "no-frills" airline, AirAsia. Construction of the LCC Terminal was on a fast-track basis beginning June 2005 at an approximate cost of RM 108 million.
The 35,290 square-meter terminal is designed and built to suit the low cost carrier business model that requires only basic terminal amenities. In order to offer lower landing fees, handling fees and airport taxes, it cuts back on amenities such as aerobridges, elaborate physical structures and decorations in the passenger terminal building. There is no transfer facility to the main terminal. Passengers who need to make transfers need to clear immigration, collect their luggage, clear customs, make their way to the main terminal and re-checkin with the respective airline.
LCCT is located on the opposite side of the apron from the Main Terminal Building, near the air cargo area. By road, LCCT is about 20 km from the Main Terminal Building.
However, the current Low Cost Carrier Terminal is a temporary solution for the increasing demand of no-frills airline passengers. Therefore, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad has incorporated the plans to build a new permanent LCC terminal which can accommodate 30 million passengers per annum . In the mean time, the airport operator decided to expand the current terminal to cope up with the increasing demand. The new arrival hall was first open on December 15, 2008. This airport was the first airport to have separation between normal carriers and low cost carrier.
The terminal is due to be replaced by the new low cost carriers terminal, KLIA2 when the terminal comes online on April 2012.
The gates in LCCT have alphabet prefix of P for domestic departures and T for international departures.
KL City Air Terminal
KL City Air Terminal, sometimes known as Kuala Lumpur City Air Terminal or KL CAT located at KL Sentral is a virtual extension of KL International Airport where city check-in services are provided. KL City Air Terminal is recognized by International Air Transport Association which carries IATA designation XKL. Currently there are only 4 airlines providing city check-in services, they are Cathay Pacific, Emirates Airline, Malaysia Airlines and Royal Brunei Airlines. However, the situation is due to be changed as 10 SITA's AirportConnect CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment) were installed on 10 check-in desks in KL CAT that enables all airlines to offer city check-in service for their passengers. Apart from providing check-in services, the virtual terminal operator, Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd which operates KLIA Express is planning to roll out baggage check-out service in January 2008 whereby passengers only collect their baggage and declare taxable items in Kuala Lumpur City Air Terminal.
Airlines and destinations
Note 1: ^ Although some of these flights make an intermediate stop en route to their listed destination, they do not have rights to carry traffic solely between Kuala Lumpur and the intermediate city.
Prospective airlines and routes
Terminals of Kuala Lumpur International Airport are well connected with the KLIA Automated People Mover (Aerotrain), a three-car driverless train that runs on elevated rail and under the taxiways and also the bus system.
On November 25, 2008, the train manufacturer and airport operator announce a deal to purchase 3 new vehicles plus a spur line to a new Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility worth 45 million euros. The new system is expected to be fully functional by 2011.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport can be reached by the KLIA Express and the KLIA Transit train services. KLIA Express provides a non-stop express train service to the KL City Air Terminal (KL CAT) which has an IATA designation XKL, part of the Kuala Lumpur Sentral transportation hub in Kuala Lumpur. The non-stop trip between Kuala Lumpur and KLIA is 57 kilometers and takes exactly 28 minutes. Passengers departing from KL CAT can check in their luggage for flights on Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Royal Brunei Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. Whereas KLIA Transit is a high-speed commuter train service linking Kuala Lumpur Sentral, and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport ERL station. It shares the same tracks as the KLIA Express but with stops at three intermediate stations. Check-in facilities are not available at KLIA Transit stations. Passengers to/from Low Cost Carrier Terminal can reach KLIA ERL station by boarding the Feeder Bus provided.
Taxis and limousine
Airport taxis or airport limousines are provided by Airport Limo. The taxis and limousines are readily available at the Taxi and Limousine counters. They run from airport itself to destinations in Klang Valley and Greater Klang Valley. The fares are to be paid at the counter and are charged according to the destinations' zone. A surcharge is applied for services between 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Both public and private buses connect KLIA to several points in Kuala Lumpur and beyond.
Expansion and developments
Under the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport Masterplan, a new runway and a new satellite building will be constructed to accommodate the increasing number of passengers. The airport Phase 2 development plan is to handle 40 million (▲5 Million) passengers per year by 2008 with the expansion of low cost carrier terminal. For phase 3, the airport will expand to handle 75 million (▲35 million) passengers per annum with the construction of a new satellite terminal and replacement of current low cost carrier terminal with a new low cost carrier terminal that will be capable of handling 30 million passengers alone. Under Phase 4, the airport will be capable to handle 130 million passengers per annum by 2020.
With the slight modification of the masterplan, the future Terminal 2's satellite terminal will be combined into one satellite terminal. The expansion of Terminal 2's satellite terminal will be exactly the same as Terminal 1's satellite terminal, where initially the satellite terminal will have four arms, and another four arms when the terminal reached its capacity. There is sufficient land and capacity to develop facilities to handle up to 130 million passengers a year, five runways by the year 2020 and two mega-terminals, each linked with satellite terminals. The airport's vicinity will include hiking trails for jet-lagged travelers, golf courses, convention center, a theme park, a shopping center, hotels, and a wetlands nature preserve. Sepang International Circuit, which hosts Formula One, A1 Grand Prix, Super GT, IndyCar Series and MotoGP races, is also nearby. There has also been a proposal for a monorail link to the F1 circuit. The development plan is due to be ready by April 2008.
In November 2006, the Malaysian government announced that it had approved in principle the construction of a rail link between the main terminal building and the low-cost carrier terminal. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2007. There were however no details of which company would carry out the project, nor was there an indication that it would be directly connected to the existing airport high-speed train Express Rail Link.
Low Cost Carrier Terminal
With an increasing number of passengers using the 'Low Cost Carrier Terminal '(LCCT), MAHB has approved an expansion beginning early 2007 to accommodate more passengers as the current LCCT is nearly in full capacity. The expansion of LCCT also shows the support for launch of Malaysia's first long haul low cost carrier, AirAsia X by making the terminal able to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft that are used by AirAsia X However, the Low Cost Carrier Terminal is a temporary solution for budget travellers, MAHB has submitted a proposal to the Transport Ministry to build a new, permanent LCC hub in between the main terminal building and satellite building A to replace the present Low Cost Carrier terminal.
The airport operator has announced that the construction works for the extension of LCCT will begin in March 2008 and expected to complete by December 2008. The capacity for the LCCT will increase from 10 million passengers a year to 15 million passengers a year. A proposal for a more permanent building to house a new LCCT has been submitted and expected to have a capacity for 30 million passengers a year. It is also expected that the new LCCT will be completed by 2011 to 2012. It is expected that the current LCCT will be converted in to a cargo hub once the new terminal is completed. The RM124 million LCCT expansion project tender was won by Fajarbaru Builder Group Bhd and construction work is expected to begin March 2008. The new international arrival hall was opened on December 15, 2008 with expectation that the rest of the wing will be fully operational by March 2009. The international departure hall was finally open on March 18, 2009 which expanded the handling capacity from 600 passengers at one time to 3200 passengers.
The airport operator has announced that the construction of a permanent LCCT will commence sometime in 2008 although the site has yet to be finalized. It is expected that the permanent LCCT will have a design capacity of 30 to 35 million passengers per annum.
KLIA East @ Labu was a proposed future airport. The airport will be located at Labu, which is 10 kilometres away from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). It is proposed to replace the low cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in KLIA for AirAsia flights only. The construction of the new airport, on a 2,800 hectares (Template:Convert/ac) area at the state’s central corridor in Labu, would be financed by the private sector. The two parties who have agreed to it are AirAsia Group and Sime Darby who owns the land). It had been planned to start construction on January 2009 and will open 2011. Meanwhile, Malaysian Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), the operators of KLIA, plans to continue ahead with the construction of a new LCC Terminal at KLIA to increase terminal capacity for low cost airlines. After consultation with the government, the government instructed the airport operator to build the terminal at KLIA instead in close consultation with AirAsia.
To accommodate the overwhelming increase in passenger traffic at LCCT, limited service hotel chain Tune Hotels.com announced that it is on track to open a 222-room hotel at the terminal in by the first quarter of 2009.
According to news reports, the MYR 2 billion terminal will be funded by the government as a part of the second economic stimulus package. The new terminal will be located 1.5 km from the current main terminal, will have 68 aircraft parking bays and a third runaway which is located 1.5 km from the second runaway. The new terminal is expected to be 242,000 square meter in size, with a retail space of 32,000 square meters. It will be able to accommodate 30 million passenger with provision to expand to 45 million passenger a year. There is also a possibility to include a rail extension for the Express Rail Link. The construction is expected to begin in mid-2009 and finish in Q3 2011.
During an announcement to set up virtual hub in Middle East, AirAsia X has cited fear that the new Low-Cost Carrier Terminal might not be ready by 2011 as there is no sign of any construction work or even groundbreaking of the new LCCT. The existing LCCT will not be able to cope as there won't be enough parking bays as AirAsia X is poised to take delivery of 12 more A330 by 2011. If the fear were true, it would be another blow to AirAsia and AirAsia X expansion plans. This comes just days after the Malaysian government denied AirAsia X the rights to fly into Sydney and Seoul.
On July 15 2010, the was announced that Bina Putri with partner UEM Construction has won the tender to build the terminal for MYR 997.23 million. Construction works is expected to complete within 20 months.
The operator of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad, had spent about RM135 million (approx US$39 million) to upgrade facilities at the KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang to accommodate the Airbus A380. Upgrading works started on April 3, 2006, and was completed by May 28, 2007. Works include the provision of shoulders on both sides of the two existing runways of 15 meters as well as the taxiways, building additional aerobridges at the three departure halls, namely C17, C27 and C37, and enhancing the mezzanine lounges for upper deck passengers of the aircraft at the departure halls.
Awards and recognitions
Since its inauguration in year 1998, it has won numerous awards from international organizations around the world such as Skytrax and International Air Transport Association.
KLIA's commitment to promote environment responsibility for all local and foreign travellers was recognized by EarthCheck, which was the first airport in the world to receive EarthCheck certificate in year 2004.
Since its inauguration on June 27, 1998, the airport has won awards. With its continuous effort to provide excellent services to passengers, the airport has emerged as one of the top five airports in the world.
In 2007, KLIA was rated the best airport in the world for 15-25 million passengers with Third Best Airport in Asia Pacific and Worldwide for the year of 2006. The award was organised by Airports Council International Airport Service Quality (ACI-ASQ). While in the 2007 Skytrax Airport of the Year awards, it finished fifth behind Hong Kong International Airport, Incheon International Airport, Singapore Changi Airport and Munich Airport. In the 2008 Skytrax Airport of the Year Awards, it moved up a place to fourth in the World's Best Airport for the year 2008.
In 2008, KLIA was honored again with the best airport in the world for 15-25 million passengers category n the Airport Council International's (ACI) Airport Services Quality Awards 2007. KLIA also improved its ranking this year for Best Airport Worldwide and Best Airport Asia Pacific by coming in second behind Seoul's Incheon International Airport, beating Singapore Changi Airport and Hong Kong International Airport which are leaders in service excellence.
Apart from these, Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the first airport in the world to be accredited with Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Assured certificate from Airports Council International (ACI)
Accidents and incidents
GalleryPanoramic view of Main Terminal Building and Contact Pier
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