Senai International Airport (IATA: JHB, ICAO: WMKJ), officially known as Sultan Ismail International Airport (Malay: Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Sultan Ismail), is an airport located in the town of Senai, near Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The airport is the secondary hub for AirAsia.
Opened in 1974, it serves the state of Johor as well as people from the southern states of Peninsular Malaysia. Senai International Airport is one of the four Malaysian hubs of AirAsia, the other three hubs being Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Penang International Airport. Senai International Airport used to serve as a domestic hub of Malaysia Airlines until the rationalisation of its domestic routes to cut the company's losses. As a result, Malaysia Airlines now only serves two destinations from Senai.
Today, this airport is managed by Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd (SATS), the first independent airport operator in Malaysia, after taking over the operations of the airport from Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) in 2003. Senai International Airport is able to handle up to 4.5 million passengers and 100,000 tonnes of cargo per annum. There are plans to increase the capacity of the airport to 10 million passengers in the long term and turn the airport into a cargo hub. Recent expansions and upgrades include lengthening of the runway to 3800m and building a parallel taxiway to increase runway capacity.
Growth potential of Senai Airport
Opened in 1974, the airport's main purpose was to prevent the "leakage" of passenger and cargo traffic from Johor into Singapore. However, the airport has never fulfilled its purpose due to the limited number of flights and airlines at the airport. With the South Johor region being developed, Senai International Airport has the potential of becoming a major hub in Malaysia.
Located strategically in the Iskandar Malaysia, Senai International Airport is set to become a major hub in the future. As such, Senai Airport Terminal Services (SATS) plans to invest up to RM1 billion over the next few years to upgrade the airport's passenger and cargo facilities such as building a new cargo centre and increasing the airport's retail space. Since Senai Airport was bought over, passenger traffic at the airport has more than doubled in the recent years and cargo traffic increasing significantly. The number of flights at the airport has also doubled due to efforts to attract new airlines and getting existing airlines to increase flights. Qatar Airways Cargo, which started weekly cargo flights to Senai International Airport, plans to double the number of weekly flights to two due to high demand for its service with 80% of the cargo continuing on to Europe.
Also, SATS wants to take advantage of the proximity of the airport to Singapore to attract people in Singapore to use Senai Airport. It has recently completed the building of the City Lounge, located at the Kotaraya Bus Terminal. The City Lounge provides bus services to the airport, city centre and Kranji MRT Station in Singapore, thus increasing the accessibility of the airport. From Singapore, one may take a public bus service or 'restricted' taxi to Kotaraya Bus Terminal. From the bus terminal, one can change to an express bus service provided by the airport to get to Senai airport. However, if one does take a public bus over the Causeway, it is extremely inconvenient for someone with luggage since there is a need to disembark and re-board the bus on both the Singapore and Malaysian sides of the border to pass immigration and customs which is one level up from street level. If one makes the trip in both directions, it is twice the hassle. No porters or luggage trolleys is provided. Also, there is currently a minimal amount of domestic flights from Senai.
In order to attract more Malaysians and Singapore residents, SATS plans to have a wider range of direct flights to major cities such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Taipei, Shanghai, Perth, etc. However, efforts to attract other Asian budget carriers to fly some of these routes have so far been unsuccessful. Singaporeans currently make up about 40% of the passengers using the airport.
Under future plans, a new KTM mainline railway station is to be located at the airport, helping to increase ground interconnectivity for the airport's passengers. Currently, no rail service is provided at the airport.
Expansion and Future Plans
Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd, the operator of the airport announced a multi-billion ringgit project called Airport City or Aeropolis. The project, on 1,133 hectares near Senai Airport, will comprise three main components – residential-commercial-hospitality amenities, an air cargo logistic centre and a hi-tech park. The first component will cover 323 hectares while the other two will occupy 405 hectares each.
On 26 May 2008, SATS announced a MYR 70 million plan to build an Aero Mall, a stand-alone and external airport mall. The mall will have a retail space of 10,000 square feet (930 m) and is due to be completed in the late 2009 / early 2010 time frame. The Aero Mall was official opened in July 2010.
On 8 July 2008, Kuwait's Al-Aqeelah announced a project to build an aviation academy near the airport. The project will cost around USD 100 million.
On 12 February 2009, the Hong Kong-based Plaza Premium Management Ltd opened its third Plaza Premium Lounge in Senai International Airport. Since December 2009, the airport provides free WIFI service for all customers at the Main Terminal and Cargo Centre.
Airlines and destinations
Buses to the city is available where the Bus Stop is located outside the DOPUP.
Schedule: 08:15am to 8:55pm
A taxi coupon ticket can be bought at the Taxi Coupon Counter which located at the outside of the Arrival Hall.
Interior of Senai International Airport
The interior of the airport's terminal building has been upgraded to make it look more pleasant to the eye. Wood-coloured tiles was added to the flooring of the terminal, elegant-looking seats was placed in the departure areas to provide seating for the airport's passengers. The number of retail shops has also increased significantly, providing a variety of choices for its passengers.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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