Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sibu New Airport

Finally, the upgrading work on Sibu Airport had been completed and was officiated by the Prime Minister on Malaysia Day. I personally had long waited for its completion as I used this airport frequently and looking forward for a more comfortable experience.

It has a bigger driveway to drop and pick up passengers. I don't know whether this helps as the locals are well known to park their vehicles indiscriminately.

The whole interior is now air conditioned. It has a large space which could easily hold an assembly of some sort.

There are more check in counters now. Check in would be a breeze should all the counters are operational.

The sad thing is that the airport did not offer a good shopping experience except a few convenience shops.

The passengers tickets will be checked by the security officer at the ground floor before proceeding to the escalator which will bring them to the first floor where the departure hall is situated. This type of arrangement reminds me of the Bandar Tasik Selatan Bus Terminal.

The immigration check point at the departure hall is more compact now and this reminds me of the immigration counters at Batam Center.

I was a bit disappointed with the airport design as it only has 2 aerobridges. I would have expect 3-4 aerobridges to reflect on the new status of this new airport.

It basically has only 2 gates with each gate having 2 aerobridges. In other words, 2 aircrafts can be parked at each gate and this means that it can accommodate up to 4 aircrafts at a time which use the aerobridge facility.

The departure hall is also slightly bigger than the previous one but it still has a design flaw as it causes  great bottleneck during the boarding time in way of the boarding doors as the seats are located too close to those doors.

Let's recap on the development of Sibu Airports.........

Sibu was first connected by air through an airstrip that was built by the Japanese during the WWII as a military installation. Since then, it has undergone a number of expansion works in 1952 and 1962. This old airport was located at the very end of Brooke Drive, much closer to the town and Sungai Merah back then.

This is how the old airport looks like in 1998 after expansion work was carried out. The photos are pretty nostalgic as I recall my good old days here. Back then, the largest aircraft that can landed  at the airport is the Fokker-50.

Then a new airport was rebuilt altogether at a new site, turning it into a full fledge commercial airport in  1992 and opened for operation in 1994, located about  25km from Sibu. From there on, bigger aircrafts such as Boeing 737-400 and Airbus A320 can land at Sibu Airport.

In 2010, Sibu Airport underwent further redevelopment and infrastructure upgrading works to accommodate the increasing passenger growth and to elevate the airport's infrastructure standard to higher level. The upgrading also will eventually improve the connectivity of Sibu Airport. Currently it is operating flights to and from big cities of Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Miri and Bintulu.

The works include among others, the expansion of the terminal building to 15, 240 sq. metres and the extension of the parking apron that now provides a bigger parking space for helicopters and general aviation. With an enhanced design and larger capacity, the terminal is now able to serve up to 1.8 million people per annum.

Its 2,745m long runway can accommodate Airbus A330 aircraft operations. I would have expect the airport to support a much bigger Airbus A340. However, this airport will not see any Airbus A330 anywhere soon as airlines operating here are using ATR-72 (MAS Wings), Boeing 737 (MAS) and Airbus A320 (Air Asia).

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