KUCHING: Although Kuching International Airport (KIA) is almost reaching its capacity of handling five million passengers annually, there are currently no plans for expansion.
The on-going upgrades at the airport, approved in 2013, are only to enlarge the domestic transfer corridor, allowing more shops and space for the boarding lounges.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said any expansion would depend on KIA’s continued passenger growth.
For now, the capacity has not been hit, he told reporters after opening a “Green Day” environmental awareness campaign.
“If the demand is there, airlines will increase flights and add new routes. Malaysia Airports will support the hubs to handle growth. If you look at KIA, the capacity is about 5.2 million passengers annually,” Badlisham said.
Last year, KIA was the fourth busiest air hub in Malaysia, receiving about 4.85 million passengers, after Kuala Lumpur International Airport (about 47 million passengers), Kota Kinabalu (six million passengers) and Penang (5.49 million passengers).
In 2013, KIA handled slightly more passengers at 4.87 million; in 2012, it handled 4.19 million passengers.
“For Kuching now, we are upgrading for customer convenience,” Badlisham said.
Asked about other airports in Sarawak, Badlisham said no expansion plans were in the pipeline.
The present KIA terminal was last renovated and expanded in mid-2000s, and before that in the early 1980s.
The most number of flights from Kuching are to Kuala Lumpur, followed by the domestic routes of Kuching-Sibu and Miri. The most popular international route is to Singapore, followed by Pontianak, Indonesia.
In comparison, Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu International Airport features many more international routes, including Hong Kong, Seoul, Busan, Taipei, Tokyo, Jakarta, among others.
Malaysia Airports operates 39 airports in Malaysia – five international, 16 domestics and 18 short take-off and landing ports.