Travellers to Sultan Mahmud Airport might just be grateful that when the airport was named it wasn’t given the full name of the man it was named after. Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ruled from 1978 to 1998 and was the 16th Sultan of Terengganu. The airport is striking in design with the red roof and cream stonework blending in beautifully with the surrounding gardens.
Sultan Mahmud Airport serves the town of Kuala Terengganu, although it is located at Telaga Batin about ten kilometres from the town centre. The airport is mainly domestic but does have international statues.
Kuala Terengganu was awarded city status in 2008 and is the royal capital and state capital of Terengganu, Malaysia. The city is on the east coast of Malaysia some 300 kilometres as the crow flies from Kuala Lumpur, but quite a bit further if you drive. The South China Sea laps gently against the shores of the town and the runway has been extended into the sea.
The airport is publicly owned by the Malaysian Government and is operated by Malaysia Airports Berhad. In 2012 550,831 passengers passed through the airport and there were 12,809 aircraft movements.
A budget of RM200 million was approved by the Malaysian government in 2008 to extend the runway and build a new terminal. There was only one direction the runway could be extended so it now cuts through the beach and out into the sea. The new terminal building was built on the same site as the old terminal which was completely demolished. In October 2008 the new airport and runway opened and welcomed its first Boeing 747-400 arriving from Kuala Lumpur.
The upgrade to the runway and terminal was awarded to TRC Synergy Bhd unit Trans Resources Corporation Sdn Bhd
Sultan Mahmud Airport is a very unusual looking airport terminal but it is much more attractive than some of the typical glass and steel structures that we normally see. The rather elegant building has a pond in the departure lobby with cascading water features and Koi carp gliding gently about. There is a viewing gallery so when you have visited the restaurant you can sit and watch the activity on the apron and runway while waiting for your flight. The facilities are limited but there is everything you need, toilets, telephones and an information desk. The departure hall is on the upper floor while arrivals come through the ground floor.
Flights and Destinations
Malaysia Airlines – Kuala Lumpur, Singapore (via Kuala Lumpur). Indirect flights to Medina and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia are available in the months of the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Air Asia – Kuala Lumpur
Firefly – Kuala Lumpur
Transport To and From the Airport
From Sultan Mahmud Airport into Kuala Terengganu takes about 20 minutes in a taxi and costs approximately RM25. There are taxi counters inside the arrivals hall and the taxis are all the same colour and the drivers wear a smart uniform. The drivers know the flight arrival times so there are always plenty of taxis about to coincide with these.
Car rental is available at the airport or at Ping Anchorage in the town but booking online is probably the best idea. Some of Malaysia’s best roads are in Terengganu so hiring a car is a good way to experience this part of the country.
If you are planning on staying at one of bigger hotels in Kuala Terengganu some do offer a shuttle service. When you are in the town the long distance bus station in the town has departures to Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kota Bharu and Malacca. The domestic bus routes are not the best but they do exist. There is a tourist bus that goes to the batik outlet at Noor Arfa and to the jetty for the island ferries.