The Busiest Airports in Malaysia

Editorial credit: Harris Hamdan /
Editorial credit: Harris Hamdan /

Malaysia has one of the most competitive economies in Asia and continues to experience significant growth each year. In fact, economists estimate the country will have a gross domestic product (GDP) of 1.002 trillion in 2018, making Malaysia the 26st largest economy globally. The Southeast Asian nation also has a robust manufacturing sector, which translates to significant movement of both goods and people in and out of the country on a daily basis. This has led to the establishment of several large international airports with a significant volume of passenger and cargo traffic. 

The 3 Largest Airports in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)

The busiest airport in Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The airport is located in Sepang District, Selangor, which is south of Kuala Lumpur, the national capital of Malaysia. More than 58.6 million passengers go through KLIA each year, and it is regarded as one of the most important airports in Southeast Asia. Construction of Kuala Lumpur International Airport began in 1993 as part of the Multimedia Super Corridor, an initiative introduced by the Malaysian government. KLIA was commissioned after the government felt that the existing airport in Kuala Lumpur was not adequate to handle increased air travel demand in the coming years. KLIA serves as the main hub for the following airlines: AirAsia, flyGlobal, UPS Airlines, and AsiaCargo Express. It has the longest runways of any airport in Malaysia, and is also the only airport in the country where the massive A380 airbus can land.

Kota Kinabalu International Airport

Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is the second busiest airport in Malaysia, handling a capacity of 8 million passengers annually. The medium-size airport is located in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, and serves the Greater Kota Kinabalu region, linking it to aviation centers in most parts of the Asia-Pacific region. The history of Kota Kinabalu International Airport dates back to World War II, when it was used as a military airfield. However, the airport has since experienced multiple renovations and expansions, led by the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, and can now accommodate large aircraft such as the Boeing 747.

Penang International Airport

Penang International Airport is one of the oldest airports in Malaysia, first operating in 1935. With at least 7.2 million passengers each year, Penang International Airport is the third busiest in Malaysia. The airport is located in George Town, the capital of the state of Penang, on the southeastern point of Penang Island. Penang International Airport is the main airport in the northern part of Malaysia, and offers passengers access to major Asian cities including Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta, and Taipei.

Other Major Airports in Malaysia

In addition to the three airports listed above, other large airports in Malaysia include Kuching International Airport (KIA), which is located in the state of Sarawak and serves the southwestern part of the country. It is the fourth busiest airport and is capable of handling up to 5.1 million passengers annually. KIA has experienced considerable growth and expansion since it opened in 1938. The fifth busiest airport in Malaysia is Senai International Airport, which is located in the town of Senai. The airport provides travel for 3.1 million passengers, serving the state of Johor and the states of Peninsular Malaysia.

The Future of Air Transport in Malaysia

Air transport in Malaysia appears to be increasing along with Malaysia's economy, which is growing at an impressive rate. Economic predictions and the current state of the manufacturing sector will likely increase demand for air travel in and out of Malaysia in the future, which will ultimatley lead to an expansion of its air travel sector.

The Five Busiest Airports in Malaysia by Passenger Traffic

Rank´╗┐AirportAnnual Passenger Count (Millions)
1Kuala Lumpur International Airport58.6
2Kota Kinabalu International Airport8
3Penang International Airport7.2
4Kuching International Airport5.1
5Senai International Airport3.1

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