Kota Kinabalu – Borneo’s brand-name haven ….
Colourful Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is in the state capital of Sabah, on the northwest coast of Borneo in East Malaysia. In previous decades, Kota Kinabalu was known as Jesselton, a name you may still hear. KKIA is located 7km southwest of the city centre and overlooks the South China Sea.To get into downtown Kota Kinabalu from T1, purchase a taxi fare coupon from the Taxi Coupon Counter in Arrivals at around 30RM. From T2, take a taxi or minibus into town or enjoy a two-hour stroll via the Sabah State Mosque.KKIA is Malaysia’s second busiest airport after Kuala Lumpur. KL is also the airport’s most popular destination, with upwards of 140 flights per week. The airport serves over 5.2 million passengers per year, with the capacity to handle up to 12 million. It does this in bright and airy style thanks to two fully modernised terminals, located at either end of a single runway. These upgrades were part of an extensive make-over which included a runway extension and new air traffic control tower. The airport is now able to accommodate the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380.
The three-storey main T1 has 64 check-in counters for international and domestic flights and can process up to nine million passengers annually. National carriers using KKIA’s T1 include Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air and Royal Brunei Airlines.
The new T2 complex is the country’s second purpose-built low cost carrier terminal, with 26 check-in counters and scope for up to three million passengers. It is used by charter and no-frills airlines including Fly Asian Express, MASWings, SilkAir, TigerAir, JetStar, Transmile and domestic carrier AirAsia.
Kota Kinabalu International’s retail experience was enhanced during the airport’s recent makeover, and it now boasts two glittering Duty Free shops plus a handful of other stores. For international arrivals, there is a Sabah Duty Free store in the Arrivals lounge before clearing customs. Get your Mild Seven, L&M or Winston cigarettes here, or keep those alcohol coffers topped up with the renowned spirits of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Patrón Tequila or Bombay Sapphire Gin.
For departing passengers, T1’s Ground Floor has a convenience store, a Sabah handicrafts and souvenir shop, plus an opportunity to buy the frozen version of one of Sabah’s best-loved assets • its fresh seafood. There’s also a Body Shop, a bookshop to pick up the latest blockbuster and a birds nest outlet for a unique gift from the island.
>T1’s Diamoney store brims with high-end fashion jewellery. For a luxurious ‘treat to self’, pick up a tax-free 18-carat rolled gold ring; some understated cuff links; a rich ruby pendant or a sapphire-encrusted necklace and earring set. T1 also has a perfume boutique. Ladies, get to know the decadent new fragrances from Cacharel, Carolina Herrera and Donna Karan. Gentlemen are spoilt for choice too, with cologne and body products from Dunhill, Guy Laroche, Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss.The first floor of low-cost carrier T2 houses an Internet kiosk and convenience store. It’s also where to head if you’re feeling a bit peckish. Alongside several familiar fast-food outlets including KFC (which has WiFi) and McDonalds there’s the Asian Delights Café, serving a wide selection of local and Western food. AirAsia offices and the airport’s Tourism Information Centre are up here, too.Sabah Duty Free in T2 Departures is the place to find that perfect indulgent treat or special occasion gift. Don’t miss a beat • or indeed a flight • with a prestige purchase from the aristocrats of the watch world. Check out the latest trends and technologies from Tag Heuer, Breitling, Swiss Legend, Invicta and Audemars Piguet. Ladies looking for a new signature style might opt for a leather, metal or ceramic strap watch from Cartier, Fossil, Tissot, Michael Kors or Versace.
The beauty products available include hair straighteners and beautifully boxed sets from ghd, Coroliss, Cloud 9 and Sedu. Advanced anti-ageing products come from market leaders such as Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Garnier, Clinique and Clarins.
The magical cosmetics counter glitters with the eye shadows and plumping lip glosses of Space NK, Maybelline, L’Oréal and Shiseido. For a touch of exclusivity, kit yourself out with an exclusive-to-travel compact from Elizabeth Arden, Too Faced, Max Factor, Dior or Bourjois. Nail polishes in this season’s high-gloss and crackle finishes abound, in blood red or nicely neutral shades from OPI, MAC, Chanel, Barry M and Leighton Denny.
Whether coming or going from Kota Kinabalu, there’s absolutely no excuse to do so empty handed. So stock up on style, in style, at one of Malaysia’s newest, busiest airports.