The airport is close to the town of Lawas in the Malaysian state of Sarawak and approximately 1,500 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. In the early 1990’s the town underwent much transformation with roads, residential projects and shopping centres being built. Millions of ringgit have been spent on improving the town and many of the run-down motels have been transformed into adequate tourist hotels
All these improvements have meant more people arriving by air so there are plans to relocate the airport so that larger aircraft can be accommodated. It will also attract people from the whole of the Sabah-Sarawak area who will be able to use it. In February 2011 Deputy Minister of Transport Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri visited the airport and said that relocation plans have been regarded as essential under the Tenth Malaysia Plan.
Another major consideration for relocation is that the runway of Lawas Airport ends on the riverbank and is now being considered unsafe as corrosion and crumbling has been observed. For a few weeks a year the runway is submerged under up to a metre of water and then has to be closed for a two week period while the debris and mud is cleared away.
The airport is publicly owned by the Government of Malaysia and is operated by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad. There are around 30 flights a week and passenger numbers are increasing with 45,728 passing through the airport in 2008 to 65,728 predicted by 2014 at the current 5% growth rate.
The airstrip at Lawas was built in 1961 and is one of two that were in the area. The other one was used by Australian missionaries to help the highland natives and was closed down in the 1980’s.
The runway is quite short and at the time of construction it was sufficient for the small aircraft that operated between the similar airports in the Sarawak area. Due to the airstrip having the river at each end any ideas of expanding have had to be abandoned in favour of relocation so that larger aircraft and higher passenger numbers can be accommodated..
The current terminal is small but has all you need for the short wait for your flight. There are basic facilities but don’t expect too much.
Flights and Destinations
MasWings - Ba'kelalan, Kota Kinabalu, Miri.
Transport To and From the Airport
A taxi from the airport into Lawas town is very cheap, around RM4-5.The taxi rank in the town is next to the bus station where you can catch a bus to go across the Sarawak – Sabah border.
Driving to and from the airport is easy as the Pan-Borneo Highway runs right past the airport. Parking is available directly outside the terminal building.