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Air Travel In Malaysia On The Rise

What's Converging
Writer
Zurien Onn
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Increased air traffic movements in July hint at a gradual recovery for Malaysia’s aviation industry.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, passenger demand for air travel has declined substantially for fear of possible infection. Additionally, the implementation of quarantine and movement control orders by governments around the world has taken a toll on airlines and airport operators. In Malaysia, the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed by the government meant that most commercial flights were effectively halted, as non-essential interstate and international travel were banned. However, under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), interstate travel has been allowed again, translating into an increase in passenger and aircraft movements at the 39 airports managed by Malaysia Airports in Malaysia.

Comparing the last nine days of June and the first nine days of July, data collected has shown that passenger and aircraft movements have doubled over the period. In the last nine days of June the daily average passenger movements was at 18,650, while the first nine days of July showed a daily average of about 37,000 passenger movements. Meanwhile, daily average aircraft movements went from 290 in the same time period in June to 550 in the first nine days of July. The numbers may reflect mainly on domestic flights for now, since Malaysia is yet to open its borders for non-essential international travel, but the outlook seems promising, indeed.

Malaysia Airports Group Chief Executive Officer Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh has stated that this is a positive sign of gradual recovery for Malaysia’s aviation industry. He commented that the airport operator hopes to see a hike in traffic numbers in the near future, especially with the Aidiladha celebrations coming up. “Malaysians who did not get the opportunity to spend Aidilfitri with their families will surely take the opportunity to travel back to their hometown and enjoy the festivities with their loved ones,” he said.

“We are glad to see local carriers launch aggressive sales campaigns to increase load factors,” said Dato’ Mohd Shukrie, mentioning how AirAsia had managed to sell over 200,000 of their Unlimited Passes. He also spoke of the joint business partnership between Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines, where they will start offering a four-weekly service between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Narita soon. Meanwhile, talks between governments on the implementation of travel corridors - mutual agreements to allow for non-essential travel between two or more countries - creates optimism on the future state of air travel in Malaysia. “The introduction of the Malaysia-Singapore Reciprocal Green Lane, announced by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia and Singapore on 14 July 2020 is a welcome start for further relaxation in opening of our borders,” said Dato’ Mohd Shukrie.

Concurrently, at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport - Malaysia Airports’ fully owned asset in Turkey - international travel has been steadily increasing since Turkey opened their borders on 12 June 2020. Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines has commenced flights to 43 destinations in 27 countries, while regional airline AnadoluJet has started operations to 12 destinations in seven countries.

Concurrently, at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport - Malaysia Airports’ fully owned asset in Turkey - international travel has been steadily increasing since Turkey opened their borders on 12 June 2020. Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines has commenced flights to 43 destinations in 27 countries, while regional airline AnadoluJet has started operations to 12 destinations in seven countries.

In Malaysia, the nation in general has been fortunate that COVID-19 cases are currently under control and that the curve shows signs of flattening, thanks to the #kitajagakita (meaning “take care of each other”) attitude. To ensure that we can continue to enjoy the freedom of movement that we have now, remember to always be vigilant and practice social distancing to avoid possible infection, to wear your mask in public places, and always disinfect or wash your hands. Certainly everyone is looking forward to the situation improving as the country’s economy recovers, but we shouldn’t let our guard down and continue to play our part by continuing to adhere to the new norm.

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