Enhanced KKIA completing soon

KOTA KINABALU: Upgrading works at Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), costing some RM45mil, will be completed this year, says Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB).

Its acting group chief executive officer Mohamed Rastam Shahrom said MAHB was committed to the KKIA masterplan, which has been designed to ensure the airport’s continuous expansion.

It is in tandem with passenger volume growth forecast over the long term.

He presented the action plan for the upgrading and development of KKIA’s Terminal 1 during a courtesy call to state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew here on Tuesday.

MAHB, a government-linked company, is one of the largest airport operator groups in the world, managing 39 airports across the nation.

“MAHB is currently driving several initiatives to optimise airport operations efficiency.

“We started in December 2023 and will deliver the packages in phases to be completed within this year,” he told Liew.

He outlined the ongoing efforts to modernise and enhance existing facilities as well as long-term development plans to address growing passenger volume.

These include airport ambience enhancements by modernising and revitalising key passenger touchpoints at KKIA, such as elevating air quality and temperature standards, as well as amplifying the public address system for enhanced communications.

MAHB will also refurbish prayer rooms and washroom facilities, optimise seating arrangements, increase food and beverage offerings, and improve trolley and buggy services for passenger comfort and convenience.

“We have completed Phase One of passenger seat refurbishment and added 250 trolleys at the end of last year.

“In the next nine months, we will complete the refurbishment of 52 existing toilets and the surau, apart from tinted insulation to reduce heat,” said Mohamed Rastam.

He also said several airport infrastructure enhancements were in progress, geared towards better efficiency and functionality.

These include upgrading works to the airport runway and taxiway, refurbishing air conditioning chillers, bolstering Wi-Fi connectivity, refurbishing existing passenger boarding bridges, and installing new ones.

It also includes improving check-in facilities and strengthening security fencing, as well as closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems.

“This is long-awaited, and I thank them for taking up the upgrading and development plan to address the issues surrounding KKIA,” said Liew.

“I was informed by the acting group CEO that MAHB is committing an investment of RM45mil to deliver the said initiatives, with a clear mandate to complete them before the end of 2024.

“This encouraging move is great news for the people of Sabah, who deserve an upgraded international airport, which is the second busiest in the country.

“Collectively, those initiatives to optimise the airport’s operations efficiency levels are expected to immediately increase KKIA’s capacity by one million passengers per annum (mppa), from its current nine mppa to 10 mppa,” Liew added.

The minister expressed appreciation to the federal and state governments for the initiatives involving the Airport Development Masterplan.

“Especially to our Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, who has been consistent in pushing for the upgrading and development of the KKIA.

“Given the influx of international tourists from South Korea, China and Singapore, among others, and Sabah’s target of three million tourist arrivals set for 2024, the initiatives are most timely,” Liew said.

Hajiji had last month highlighted KKIA’s urgent upgrade needs amid surging tourist arrivals to Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Rastam also briefed Liew on the future development of KKIA over a timeline of three years (2024 to 2026).

“MAHB will be proposing to the government a development plan to increase the airport’s capacity from 10 mppa to 12 mppa by 2026/2027,” he said.

This proposal, he added, was integral to MAHB’s long-term masterplan to accommodate the increasing passenger volume at KKIA, with the ultimate goal of scaling the airport’s capacity to 21 mppa by 2044.