Penang International Airport (PEN), Bayan Lepas, George Town


Located 16km south of Penang’s capital, Georgetown, Penang International Airport is Malaysia’s third busiest airport in the amount of passengers but the fourth biggest in size. Providing links across South East Asia and north of western Malaysia the airport is much faster at baggage reclaim and check in than some of the much larger airports. The airport is operated by Malaysia Airport Holdings and owned by the Government of Malaysia.


When the airport first opened in 1935 it was known as Bayan Lepas International Airport, but after a new terminal was opened in 1979 the airport became Penang International Airport. The airport has undergone major improvement works and renovations over the years with a new cargo terminal added in 2000 that can handle 360,000 tonnes per year and there was yet another facelift in 2001. Money in the 2009 budget was set aside for another expansion programme and the airport now handles 4.5 million passengers a year with a projected growth to 5 million by 2016.


The asphalt runway, 04/22, at Penang International Airport is 10,997ft / 3,352 meters and in 2011 there were 54,713 aircraft movements. The runway has recently been extended and is now able to cope with the Boeing 747-800 aircraft and there are plans to build another runway as the passenger numbers increase year after year.


Out of the three terminals at Penang International Airport only one is used for passengers and serves both domestic and international arrivals and departures. The two storey building has had a recent increase in floor space of 25,000m2 and the passenger handling capacity has risen from 1200 to 2000 per hour at peak times and transit through the airport is smooth and fast.

For departing passengers you have to go through a security screening system before you can reach the check in desks and their new passenger processing system. Once checked in you can head to the departure gates. Only passengers with tickets are allowed through the gates and there will be a second security screening for all travellers with international passengers having to pass through immigration as well before reaching the departure lounge.

The new modern terminal has wheelchair and disabled friendly areas and facilities, but if you need assistance on arrival or departure you must book in advance with the airport. The seating areas, baggage claim carousels, toilets, customs and security areas have all been upgraded and with plenty of shops and restaurants, a post office and other useful facilities including a foreign exchange office and a bank Penang International Airport is

The majority of planes are connected by sky bridges but some of the smaller planes will park further away so a short walk across the tarmac may be necessary.

Flights and Destinations

From Penang International Airport you can fly to 22 destinations in nine different countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, Medan, Bangkok, Guangzhou and Phuket with international airlines like Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways. There also two budget airlines, Firefly and AsiaAir, with flights to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi and many other destinations including at least 20 flights a day to Kuala Lumpur.

Transport To and From the Airport

The car park at Penang International Airport has been included as part of the expansion programme and there are now spaces for 2000 vehicles, an increase of 1200 on previous years offering both short and long term parking. For rapid pick up and drop off the number of dedicated lanes outside the terminal entrance have been increased.

Car rental is an option with many companies having desks inside the arrivals hall and some offering a “meet & greet” service and there is wide choice of vehicles available. Booking in advance is to be recommended particularly at the busier times of year and don’t forget you will need your driving licence and a credit card.

The most recommended way to arrive and depart from Penang International Airport is by bus. Rapid Penang has bus services that will take you to the Georgetown and the 232m high Komtar shopping centre. There is a very comprehensive route covering most of the island operated by Rapid Penang and for a week of unlimited travel it is worth purchasing the Rapid Penang Travel Passport.

Don’t be fooled by the name “Rapid” as there will be many stops between you and your destination so if you are in a hurry a taxi just might be a better idea. There is a Rapid Penang ticket office in the arrivals hall where you can get further advice. If you board a bus along the route the drivers will only take the correct fare so make sure you have plenty of change.

There is a taxi desk inside the arrivals hall and travellers are advised to use it. One of the friendly Malaysian staff will ask your destination and then issue a voucher for the correct price which you pay for at the desk. Take this prepaid voucher to the taxi rank and the driver can’t make any excuses about the meter not working correctly! The driver has to issue a receipt when the destination is reached safely.

This is not obligatory but Malaysian taxi drivers are quite well known for thinking that laws don’t apply to foreigners and they can charge whatever price they want to. For a return journey to the airport it is better to let your hotel book a taxi with a reputable company for an agreed price.

Routes To Penang International Airport

Routes From Penang International Airport

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