Tawau Airport is in the state of Sabah in Malaysia. In this area the industries of cocoa and timber farming have seen a huge boost since the 1980’s and tourism is on the increase. All this activity is good news for the town and has meant more income plus the building of a super new airport. Tawau Airport is only the second airport in the state to have immigration facilities after Kota Kinabulu and therefore can accept international flights.
Tawau is a vibrant, lively town and from there you can get to some of the nearby islands like Jolo, Nunukan Tarakan and Sebatik. There is plenty to do and see and many shops, bars and restaurants to visit. Not far from Tawau is Pulau Sidipan, home to some of the richest marine life in the world, this is just one of the many natural parks that visitors flock to Tawau to see.
A brand new airport was built outside of the town at the start of the 21st century with the capacity to handle 1.8 million passengers per year. In 2012 it had reached about half of that figure with 982,153 passengers passing through the airport and 10,880 aircraft movements.
Like other airports in the country, Tawau Airport is under the management of Malaysia Holdings Berhad and owned by the Malaysian Government.
The original airport in Tawau was located only a few kilometres from the town centre. It was opened in 1968 and could only accept small aircraft like the Fokker 50. A national survey showed that Tawau had one of the shortest runways in Malaysia and this factor along with close proximity to the town has been instrumental in several accidents with aircraft missing the runway or skidding off the runway. After a crash with 37 fatalities a government plan was put in place to build a new airport further away from the town. The airport was opened for service in December 2001 and officially opened in 2003 by the former Transport Minister of Malaysia.
The runway is 3,000 metres and is capable of accommodating aircraft like the Airbus series.
The terminal building is mainly one storey and inside has shops, bar and toilets. There are two sky bridges and up to eight aircraft can be on the apron at any one time. There is a large, covered parking area for ease of dropping off and collecting passengers.
Flights and Destinations
Malaysia Airlines – Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur
Airasia – Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur
MASwings – Sandakhan, Kota Kinabalu and Tarakan (Indonesia)
Malindo Air – Kuala Lumpur
Although Tawau promotes itself as having an international airport the only direct international flights are to and from Tarakan in Indonesia. For anywhere else outside of Malaysia it seems that it would be necessary to take a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau.
Transport To and From the Airport
The town of Tawau is about 30 kilometres from the airport but there is a taxi and town bus shuttle service. Coupons for the bus or taxi journey can be bought at relevant counters inside the arrivals hall. The transport system is excellent so reaching local destinations is no problem.
If you wish to leave your car at the airport the open air car park has 500 spaces.
Car hire is available from the airport or your hotel and there are local and worldwide companies in Tawau. It is probably better to book in advance if you can.