Larry Lam's Guide Note


(Updated by Julie Chang.)

K.L. International Airport (KLIA), located 60km south of KL at Sepang, is the major international gateway for Malaysia. As the regional hub, it has further boosted the growth of tourism and the services sector in the country. It is also the centre of Malaysia's emerging aerospace industry.

The Malaysian government gazetted 100 sq kilometres for its development. The large size of land designated for the airport would allow it to expand as needed to meet future air traffic demands. The site selected was previously plantations of oil palm and other agricultural produce and a small orang asli settlement of 85 families. (These families were relocated to new homes and provided with their own plots of land to cultivate).

The plan is to develope this airport over 3 phases. The 1st phase (completed) commenced full commercial operations on June 28, 1998. As of 2009, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (the airport operator) reported that the KLIA passenger movements amounted to 29.682 million while the aircraft traffic at the KLIA rose to 225,251 planes.

The 2nd phase envisage facilities which will increase the airport's capacity to accommodate 40 million passengers while the 3rd phase will cater for 75 million passengers. Further development will enable KLIA to handle up to 130 million passengers per year.

The current facilities include:
1) Main Terminal Building (MTB) with 80 gates (contact, remote and multi-aircraft ramp stands)
2) Satellite Building
3) Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)
4) Two runways
5) VVIP complex (Bunga Raya Komplex).

The 241,000 sq metre (2.6mn sq ft) Main Terminal Building (MTB) has 5 levels and houses customs and immigration counters, duty free and retail outlets, and restaurants. Domestic flights and short-haul international flights are served by a two-armed Contact Pier which is attached to the MTB. The contact pier is about 900m (3000ft) in length and 95,000 sq meters (1mn sq ft) in size, with 20 fixed passenger bridges for ease of boarding.
A 441-room Five Star Hotel, The Pan Pacific Hotel Kuala Lumpur International Airport, is available (within walking distance) adjacent to the MTB.

The four-armed Satellite building has an area of 143,404 sq metre (1.55mn sq ft) and is located some distance away from the MTB. International flights depart and arrive at this terminal complex. The Aerotrain (automated track transit system) shuttles passengers from the MTB to this terminal at 3 to 5 minute interval.
An 80 room Airside Transit Hotel is located within the Satellite Building for the travel-weary transit passengers to rest and refresh themselves.

LCCT is located on the opposite side of the apron from the Main Terminal Building, near the air cargo area. It is about 20 km by road from the MTB. The 35,290 square-meter terminal is designed and built to suit the low cost carrier business model that requires only basic terminal amenities.

KLIA has been designed as a four-runway airport. Currently, it has 2 full service runways, each is 4 kilometres long and 60 metres wide. The operation of 2 runways with parallel approaches and departures enable this airport to handle more than 72 flights per hour.

KLIA is designed and built to be an efficient, competitive and world-class hub airport for the Asia-Pacific Region. It replaces the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport (formerly Subang International Airport) at Subang as the main gateway into the nation. The new mega airport, complete with the latest technology and state-of-the-art facilities, aims at providing maximum passenger safety, comfort and convenience. It is unique because it has within its boundaries all that is needed for business, entertainment and relaxation. The airport is part and parcel of the Multimedia Super Corridor, where placement of high technology industries are being actively pursued. KLIA is within 20 minutes from Putrajaya, Malaysia's new administrative centre. It is also linked electronically and physically to Cyberjaya, a multimedia catalyst centre created for global research and development. Surrounded by four main cities of Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Seremban and Malacca, the airport located in the middle of this catchment area offers great potential for business opportunities.

For hi-tech motor enthusiasts a Formula One Race Track is available and the first race was in 1999. The track caters for an array of other activities throughout the year including four wheel track, go kart and rally racing. There are also facilities for advanced driving skills.

With a rambling roof resembling white Bedouin tents, the five-level KLIA boasts the world's tallest air-traffic control tower, the biggest columnless hangar, the longest baggage conveyor belt system, biggest passenger lounge and the capacity for 25 million people a year. The airport has a Made in Malaysia, RM24 million Olympex flight information display system. KLIA is the second airport in the world after Munich to have a special chamber to defuse explosives as part of its sophisticated fire-fighting systems. It has two decompression chambers costing RM 3.2 million to dispose of explosive materials. KLIA's fire fighting unit is the most modern in the region. It is the first in the region to secure seven Ultra Large Foam Tender (ULFT) vehicles costing RM 3.8 million each which can be operated in any condition.

Designed by renowned Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, the KLIA is a spectacular feat of construction which combines futuristic technology, Malaysian culture and the rich, tropical splendor of its natural resources. It incorporated forms and systems suggesting advancement and modernization while at the same time, support Malaysia's cultural history.

Every effort has been made to create a homely airport with a serene environment combined with high technology attractions. Nature and greenery will be part of the airport in line with the 'airport in the forest' and 'forest in the airport' concept. The natural environs of the airport will be transformed to functions and activities that continue to enhance nature. The architecture of all the new facilities will maximise the use of the forest concept and imagery with strategic locations designed with high standards of environmental performance in mind.

The abundant forest areas are to be preserved and transformed into an environment park containing recreational facilities. There will also be a golf course within the limits of the airport reserve.

A Free Zone, comprising a Free Commercial Zone and a Free Industrial Zone, is being planned in which goods and services of any description, except those prohibited by law, may be brought into, produced, manufactured or provided without any customs duty, excise duty, sales tax or service tax. The Free Zone is designed to promote entrepot trade and manufacturing activity.

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Last updated: 10th May, 2010.
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