In 2004, KLIA became the first airport in the world to win the Green Globe 21
Certification, in line with the United Nations Conference on Environment Development (UNCED) Agenda
Winning the Green Globe 21 Certification means this attractive airport is
“committed to Sustainable Travel Tourism through Control Implementation of Environmental and Social Aspects.”
Today, KLIA has won this certification for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, setting a global benchmark
that an international aviation consultant has described as “the standard the rest of the world needs to come up
Photo by Ian Hammond
KLIA has also been named “Best Airport In the World in its Class” more than
once by the such organisations as IATA and Airports Council International, with judging criteria including
customer satisfaction with environmental responsibility and eco-friendly operations.
Airport-designers and aviation planners from all over the world have visited
KLIA to see its green concept for themselves and have come away impressed. One veteran foreign airline manager
went on record as stating that “KL International Airport is actually in a class of its own!”
How did Malaysia Airports manage this?
“We started right. That created a solid foundation for all our future work,”
says Malaysia Airports managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad.
“KL International Airport was probably the first airport in the world
conceived at the very start with an environmental theme in mind. ‘An Airport Within A Forest And A Forest
Within An Airport’ was the visionary concept the planners had when creating KLIA.
“The airport itself is situated in a natural environment of peat-swamp forest,
and Malaysia is renown for having some of the oldest tropical rainforests on the planet, with the richest
bio-diversity imaginable. This formed the natural environment that encompassed the airport from the outside.
The challenge of the concept was to bring the natural environment into the airport’s actual operational
Has the concept worked?
Today, more than a decade later, lush greenery surrounds the Main Terminal
building and there is a little stream gurgling through a carefully-recreated tropical rainforest below
passengers lining up for security-checks.
At the Satellite Building, right in the midst of one of the busiest
international landing zones in the region, there is a small patch of tropical rainforest in the middle of the
bustling transit hub, providing an unexpected oasis for harried air-travellers.
Carrying the same concept, it boasts a paved walking track that meanders
beside a secondary jungle and the landscaped woodland around the award-winning KLIA Pan Pacific Hotel. This
setting is to be found in the hotel itself with a beautifully-landscaped miniature tropical jungle nestling
within the main lobby.
Outside, primeval rainforests stretch as far as the eye can see along the main
access highway, together with ecologically-conducive oil palm plantations.
On the technology side, KLIA has led the region, and in some cases the world,
by implementing paperless travel innovations such as handphone check-in, Common User Self-Service kiosks and
the KLIA One-Touch system. The innovative interactive flyklia.com web-portal also cuts down usage of
paper, electricity and other forms of energy used up in conventional methods of information collection and
“Being ‘green’ at KLIA is more than just a nice ideal — it is a practical
reality and a pragmatic approach to operations and administration. Everyone from the top managers to the lowest
labourers are involved in the commitment to environmental best practices,” Bashir explains.
“Running an environmentally-responsible airport is a holistic operation that
needs top-down management to integrate all activities,” he concludes.
“Ultimately, however, it’s a personal thing — being successful as a ‘green’
airport depends on every single individual who works at the airport. That’s why when KLIA wins an award, it is
a tribute to the whole airport community and a source of pride for Malaysians!”
-- The Star --