The third largest state in Malaysia is Pahang and Kuantan is the state capital of Pahang. Facing the South China Sea the town is close to the mouth of the Kuantan River and is approximately halfway between Kota Bharu and Singapore. Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport is 15 kilometres from the town which is the ninth largest in Malaysia.
Although Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport is mainly a domestic airport in 2008 an agreement between Tourism Malaysia and Taiwan mean that it became the first airport on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia to receive an international flight. Despite having a capacity of a million passengers a year, the airport barely handles a quarter of that number. Passenger numbers in 2012 were 280,074 and there were 3,613 aircraft movements.
The runway is shared with the Royal Malaysian Air Force. The nearby base RMAF base is home to 19 Squadron with their MiG-29’s and 5 Squadron with their BAE Hawks. The airport is designated as military and public and is operated jointly between Malaysia Airport and the Military of Malaysia.
There has been an airport here in Kuantan since the 1960’s. When Club Med opened at Cherating and the Hyatt Hotel Kuantan was completed in the following decade improvements were made to the terminal and the runway was lengthened. There is strong growth in the Kuantan economy and with a growing population the upgrades to the airport were seen as necessary to help the town secure its future.
The triangular shaped roof of Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport provides a pleasant backdrop as you approach by road with neatly tended lawns and flowerbeds full of colour. There are modern facilities with several small shops and various places to get a bite to eat. There are two gates, six check-in desks, two baggage carousels, a VIP lounge, first aid post and facilities for the disabled. There are no sky bridges and passengers have to walk across the tarmac between the terminal and the aircraft.
Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport offers mechanical handling, domestic cargo, free port and foreign trade zone, an EU border post, security for valuables, an express courier centre, animal quarantine and mortuary.
Flights and Destinations
MASwings – Singapore
Firefly – Singapore
Air Asia - Singapore
China Airlines – Taipei (seasonal)
There are also private jet companies that fly into Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport.
There are some international flights to and from Kuantan, mainly for the expatriates working locally and the guests of Club Med Cherating Beach. Most of the international flights go via Kuala Lumpur for immigration and customs procedures.
Transport To and From the Airport
The airport is 15 kilometres from the town centre and there is a taxi rank outside the terminal. Make sure you get a taxi coupon from inside the arrivals hall. There are unregistered taxis hanging about for unwary travellers and it could cost you dearly.
Car hire is available from the airport but maybe better to book online before you go. There is no bus service in the area.