Kuching International Airport (KIA) (IATA: KCH, ICAO: WBGG) is Sarawak's main international airport and is situated 11 km (6NM) south of the city of Kuching. The airport is also an airbase for the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the newly renovated terminal complex is capable of handling 5 million passengers per annum and it is the third largest airport in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport. KIA has grown rapidly with an increasing number of passengers and aircraft movement. In the year of 2008, KIA handled 3,238,614 passengers with a corresponding volume of 39,188 flights. In the same year, 19,167 metric tonnes of cargo were handled. Kuching International Airport is the secondary hub for Malaysia Airlines and has been growing rapidly to tackle the demand of the travellers in the East Malaysia region.
The airport was built by the British Government of Sarawak in the 1940’s on the outskirts of Kuching town. It was opened for used on 26 September 1950. The airport consisted of a small “L” shaped single storey Terminal, Cargo, Fire Station. Air Traffic Control Tower, Meteorological Service and Maintenance building clustered in one area, a small apron of 4 parking bays and 1372 meter long with 46 meter width of a single runway. Navigational (Direction Finding Equipment) and Radio Aids were installed at the airport.
Kuching International Airport then became the gateway to Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo (Sabah as it is called today) with the introduction of once weekly Dakota services originated from Singapore. By the end of 1954, scheduled air services into Kuching International Airport grew by leaps and bounds. This was depicted in the 1954 statistics which recorded 1550 aircraft movements, 13,564 passengers, 95,911 kilogram cargo and 25,984 mails. In 1959 the runway was extended to 1555 meter length to make way for Viscount aircraft operations.
Followed by another expansion in 1962 to make it 1921 meters in length to accommodate Comet 4 operations. The terminal was also enlarged in the same year. A Control Zone was established at Kuching in November as apart of the plan to provide an Air Traffic Control Service commensurate with the growth of air traffic. Malayan Airways Limited operated the Singapore / British Borneo Territories Regional Services with Viscount and DC3 aircraft, daily schedules linked Kuching and Sibu with Singapore on the other side, and Brunei and Borneo on the other.
In 1971 the Malaysian Government (as Sarawak joined the Federation of Malaysia on 16 November 1963) engaged a team of Canadian Consultants to make Master Plan study of Kuching International Airport.
In Decembers 1972, the government accepted the Consultant’s report. Among the recommendations were:
Work on the extension and strengthening of the runway was started in 1973 and was completed in 1976 ready to take Boeing 707 with the new runway measured of 2454 meter length.
In 1980, consistent with the advent of Airbus 300 operations it was imperative the runway pavement strength be upgraded to meet Airbus 300 requirement. Work on this undertaken and was completed in early 1982.
Construction of the terminal complex at the north site took a center stage at the end of 1978 and was completed in July 1983. This modern terminal replaced the previous terminal, was opened on 24 August 1983. The terminal complex covering a built-up area of 81 hectares with a floor space of 13,000 square meter, comprised the three-storey passenger terminal flanked by a neatly planned buildings of Air Traffic Control Tower and Operation Block, Cargo Building, Fire Station, Maintenance Building, VIP Building and ancillary services building.
As in 1999, two airlines companies from two neighboring countries operated schedule services into Kuching International Airport besides three of Malaysia's own airlines and as many as 8 private general aviation companies. Irregular charted flights were also operated by two foreign airlines into the airport.
The millennium takes another rapid development in aviation world. As a result, the new terminal with a new face was renovated and extended replacing the old shape. The new terminal complex was opened on Monday 16 January 2006 by Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud (Chief Minister of Sarawak) and Dato’ Sri Chan Kong Choy (Minister of Transport Malaysia). The full work on the terminal completed in April 2006. Consisting of 9 bays (3 bay for B747 & A380 widebody aircraft), and 4 remote bays (for turboprop aircraft). Plus 3 new bays at the General Aviation Apron.
Expansion, Renovation & Redevelopment
Kuching International Airport is undergoing an upgrade that is due for completion on 1 March 2008. The renovation works to increase terminal building floor space to 46,000sq.m. were completed 15 months ahead of schedule and the fully renovated terminal building was officially opened by the then Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Monday, 17 April 2006. The project was handled by Global Upline Sdn. Bhd. and it cost some 620 million MYR. With this, the airport is now capable of handling Boeing B747 & Airbus A380 aircraft with no restriction.
The works due for completion on 1 March 2008 involves AGL, earthworks and pavement extension of the existing runway length from 2454m to 3780m and shoulders from 46m to 60m, extension of existing parallel taxiway to a full parallel taxiway with interconnection/ rapid exit taxiways including widening of taxiway fillets and shoulders to 30m. The air side apron works includes the construction of a cargo apron, high-intensity lightings and markings. Existing visual and non-visual aids will be upgraded and/or relocated consistent with the upgrading plan to serve the extended runway. With total of 9 gates, the airport can handle 6 narrow body aircraft, 3 wide body aircraft and 4 turboprop aircraft at remote stand at any one time. Besides, there is also a parking lot (Gate 9) specially made for the world largest airliner A380.
Present & Future
The Chief Minister of Sarawak, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, wishes to attract more foreign airlines to KIA so as to develop the Sarawak Tourism Industry. Singapore's budget airline, Tiger Airways, has been given the green light to serve KIA.
Malaysia Airlines in KIA has achieved zero accident rate in 2006.
AirAsia may introduce daily flights from Kuching to Bangkok, Jakarta, Macau (Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Guangzhou) & Clark (Manila). The other international routes that AirAsia hope to get soon would be Kuching - Brunei and Kuching - Singapore. Should the opportunity for Kuching-Perth flights arise AirAsia would have no problems operating them with A320 aircraft.
The Sarawak Government is working closely with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia to rationalise long-haul flights. Sarawak hope use Brunei and Singapore as entry points to enhance the two prevailing gateways - Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). This includes restoring (with higher frequency) all direct international & domestic flights previously suspended by Malaysia Airlines.
Sarawak will make a formal proposal to Malaysia Airlines (MAS) for direct flights from Hong Kong, Taipei, Kaohsiung & Korea to Kuching.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines have codeshare agreements to Kuching International Airport:
Traffic and Statistics
Baggage Handling System (BHS)
Kuching International Airport has two sides of baggage reclaim halls, one is for the domestic flights (within Sarawak) while the other one is for both international flights and flights outside Sarawak.
As one of the two states in Malaysia which controls its own immigration autonomy, Sarawak exercises special regulation upon arriving and departing from all Sarawakian airports including Kuching. All passengers travelling with any flights from outside Sarawak (including all flights from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Federal Territory of Labuan and outside Malaysia), must pass through the immigration control at the first entry airport.
Ironically, the passport will be stamped once if foreigners are entering Sarawak directly with any flights from outside Malaysia, where else twice if entering Sarawak from Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah.
Buses to the city is available where the Bus Stop is located outside the arrival hall.
A taxi coupon ticket can be bought at the Taxi Coupon Counter.
Awards and recognition
Incidents and accidents
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