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Kuching Intl Airport

Kuching International Airport
Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kuching
Airport type Public / Military
Owner Government of Malaysia
Operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad
Serves Kuching Division & Samarahan Division, Sarawak, East Malaysia
Location Kuching, Sarawak, East Malaysia
Hub for Hornbill Skyways
Malaysia Airlines
Elevation AMSL 89 ft / 27 m
Coordinates 01°29′04″N 110°20′48″E / 1.48444°N 110.34667°E / 1.48444; 110.34667
Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25 3,780 12,402 Grooved Asphalt
Statistics (2008)
Passengers 3,238,614 0.1%
Aircraft movements 39,188 4.9%
Cargo in metric tonnes 19,167 -19.5%
Mail in metric tonnes 999 -68.2%
Source: official web site and DAFIF

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:

  • The extension and strengthening of existing runway to take bigger jet aircraft. E.g. Boeing 707.
  • The construction of a new terminal building on the north site of the runway.

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.

Kuching International Airport at Night
Kuching International Airport at Night

The Terminal Building
The Terminal Building

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.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 747 at the runway
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 747 at the runway

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

AirAsia Boeing 737 touching the runway
AirAsia Boeing 737 touching the runway

KIA Arrival Hall
KIA Arrival Hall
Airlines Destinations
AirAsia Bintulu, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Miri, Penang, Sibu, Singapore
Batavia Air Pontianak
Hornbill Skyways Tanjung Manis
Malaysia Airlines Bintulu , Hong Kong, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Miri, Osaka-Kansai [begins 20th January 2011], Seoul-Incheon [begins 15th January 2011], Sibu, Singapore, Tokyo-Haneda [begins 17th January 2011]
Malaysia Airlines operated by MASwings Bintulu, Kota Kinabalu, Miri, Mukah, Mulu, Pontianak [begins 31st October 2010], Sibu, Tanjung Manis
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan
SilkAir Singapore
Tiger Airways Singapore

Cargo airlines

DHL Aviation - Operated by Transmile Air Services
Gading Sari Aviation Services - Operated by Transmile Air Services
Transmile Air Services
Neptune Air

Codeshare airlines

The following airlines have codeshare agreements to Kuching International Airport:

Traffic and Statistics

Destination services from KIA.
Destination services from KIA.
Overall Operational Statistics
Years Passenger Movements Aircraft Movements Cargo Movements in Metric Tonnes Mail Movements in Metric Tonnes
1998 2,022,160 35,147 17,447 2,681
1999 2,234,790 11% 34,868 1% 22,055 26% 2,760 3%
2000 2,545,080 14% 37,203 7% 24,200 10% 4,575 66%
2001 2,693,903 6% 39,815 7% 22,897 5% 5,503 20%
2002 2,935,052 9% 42,975 8% 24,835 8% 5,181 6%
2003 2,923,633 0.3% 42,138 2% 26,278 6% 5,131 1%
2004 3,317,879 13% 45,340 8% 26,073 1% 5,344 4%
2005 3,354,973 1% 43,253 5% 28,407 9% 5,086 5%
2006 3,196,352 5% 40,292 7% 29,716 5% 3,467 32%
2007 3,236,468 1.3% 37,348 7.3% 23,818 19.8% 3,137 9.5%
2008 3,238,614 0.1% 39,188 4.9% 19,167 -19.5% 999 -68.2%
2009 3,574,632 10.4% 44,761 14.2% 20,830 8.7% 821 -17.8%

Baggage Handling System (BHS)

KIA conveyor belts
KIA conveyor belts

AirAsia Check In Counters
AirAsia Check In Counters

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.

Ground transportation


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

  • KIA received the MS ISO 9001:2000 for Airport Management, Operations and Maintenance of Airport Covering Fire and Rescue Services, Aviation Security, Engineering and General Operations in the year of 2005.
  • Aerodrome Certification from the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) was awarded to KIA in 2005 where KIA is being the second airport in Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpur International Airport to receive the prestigious certification.
  • MAS in Kuching International Airport (KIA) achieved zero occupational accident last year, making it one of the best stations in the country.

Incidents and accidents

  • In 1999, a De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou on a routine training mission crashed at the swampy area at the end of the runway. Five RMAF personnel were killed.
  • In Feb 2006, a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 slipped off the runway while taxiing for take off. There were no fatalities or injuries. All flights into and out of Kuching had to be diverted, delayed or cancelled.
  • On Feb 27 2006, a cargo plane of courier company DHL skidded at the end of the runway of the airport when landing at 6.20 am.
  • On 7 July 2006, a man called in at 6.23pm to say "Ada bom" (There is a bomb) but it turned out to a bomb hoax. A section of Kuching International Airport’s (KIA) domestic arrival entrance was cordoned off for several hours after a suspicious looking black plastic bag was found lying near one of the pillars there. MAB quickly cordoned off the area and quietly diverted the public and passengers to other sections of the KIA complex. With the aid of a Robot Scanner, the Bomb Disposal Unit closed in to check the package and twice blasted it with shotgun pellets. A thorough check by one of the police from the Bomb Disposal Unit in special suit confirmed that the black plastic bag actually contained rubbish. Nevertheless, none of the flights were rescheduled or cancelled during the whole episode. This is the first bomb hoax incident reported since the KIA was refurbished and reopened early last April.
  • On 17 August 2006, a second bomb hoax happened, causing Air Asia flight AK5203 with 126 passengers bound for Kuala Lumpur at 9.20am grounded for checking about 100 metres away from the terminal building for explosive in “liquid-form” that had allergedly been planted onboard. All 17 flights scheduled for that morning ran as usual.
  • On 1 September 2006, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Kuala Lumpur-bound flight MH2507 which was speeding to takeoff on the Kuching International Airport (KIA) runway screeched to a stop, just metres away from the runway limit. A faulty engine suddenly lost power forcing the pilot to abort flight, grounding the Airbus 330 which failed to take off at 11.05 am. Later the passengers had to wait at the KIA departure lounge for close to seven hours before another aircraft came to replace the grounded Airbus 330 in another flight scheduled to depart at 5.30 pm. Among the affected passengers of the fully boarded flight included, several members of the Organisation of Islamic Countries’ (OIC) delegates, in the State capital for the Merdeka celebration.
  • On 13 January 2007, a Boeing 737-200 belonging to the Gading Sari Aviation Services Sdn Bhd crash-landed while attempting to land at 5.52 a.m. The aircraft's fuselage was badly damaged, and the landing gears and right engine were torn off during the crash. All four crew members escaped unhurt. The airport was closed for six hours while the plane was towed away from the crash site and debris cleared from the runway. Departures and arrivals of 16 MAS and 14 AirAsia flights were delayed affecting 2,200 passengers – 1,000 passengers of MAS and 1,200 from AirAsia. An earlier flight from Kuala Lumpur had to be diverted to Miri Airport. Damages included navigational lights - eight taxi lights, five runway edge lights, two end lights, and one precision approach path indicator. It reopened at noon.
  • On 2 October 2009, Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-4H6 9M-MMR was substantially damaged when the port main undercarriage collapsed while the aircraft was parked at the gate.

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General Info
Country Malaysia
Time UTC+8
Latitude 1.484697
01° 29' 04.91" N
Longitude 110.346933
110° 20' 48.96" E
Elevation 89 feet
27 meters
Type Civil
Magnetic Variation 000° E (01/06)
Beacon Yes
Island Group Kalimantan I
International Clearance Status Airport of Entry

TWR 118.1
GND 121.9
ATIS 128.4
RDR 134.5

ID Dimensions Surface PCN ILS
07/25 8051 x 151 feet
2454 x 46 meters

Type ID Name Channel Freq Distance From Field Bearing From Navaid
VOR-DME VKG KUCHING 092X 114.5 2.6 NM 073.9
NDB AN KUCHING - 402 9.9 NM 170.0

Fuel Jet A1, without icing nhibitor.

CAUTION 490' unlgtd rdo mast 316 2.7 NM fr thld Rwy 07. Ultralight park 5 NM rad, 7 NM N of fld, Opr to 5000' AGL. BASH. WIP.
FUEL Avbl 2100-1330Z, PN rqr before 0900Z. (NC-A1)
OPR HOURS Opr 2300-1100Z.
RSTD No flight below 1500' over Kuching town, unless using marine alighting area.

Thanks to: www.worldaerodata.com

The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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