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Confidence In KUL

Zurien Onn

Resumption of flights by three international airlines testament to confidence in operations at KL International Airport.

Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkey saw approximately 2 million passenger movements in September 2020.

The aviation industry suffered a major blow due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but the situation does seem to be getting better at airports in Malaysia. The strict Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed by the government back in March restricted interstate travel but with the lifting of the MCO in June, there could be seen a slight boost in the travel and tourism sector. Many Malaysians took this opportunity to visit their family or go on holiday. Travellers may have had reservations about flying at first, but many soon saw that flying was safe and secure, thanks to measures put in place by Malaysia Airports and onboard planes.

At KL International Airport (IATA Code: KUL), more international airlines are resuming their operations, which Malaysia Airports attributes to their confidence in the safety standard operations procedures at KUL that have been practiced since early in the year. This can be seen in the rising number of passenger traffic movements at the airport. In September, KUL recorded 1.7 million in passenger traffic, which is a 19% increase from August, and a 9.8% increase in aircraft movements at 27,010. Meanwhile, at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (IATA Code: SAW) operated by Malaysia Airports, a total of approximately 2 million passenger traffic movements were recorded in September 2020, with 5 international airlines currently operating at SAW.


Increase In International Flights

Buoyed by encouraging numbers and confidence in the COVID-19 safety measures, the latest airlines to start flying in and out of KUL again this month are British Airways, Oman Air and Ethiopian Airlines.

In a statement released earlier this month, British Airways Head of Sales (Asia Pacific and the Middle East) Moran Birger said that eligible passengers can now fly to London and other destinations on its current flight network, provided that all travel and entry requirements are met. There will be four flights a week from Kuala Lumpur departing from Heathrow Airport (IATA Code: LHR) henceforth.


Welcoming back long-time partner airline British Airways.

Meanwhile, Oman Air will be offering twice weekly flights to Muscat with the resumption of flights from KUL. The national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman restarted their scheduled service on 1 October, starting with flights to 18 cities in 12 countries, including to Cairo, Dubai, Doha, Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar.

As for Ethiopian Airlines, for now they are starting with a weekly flight to Addis Ababa from Kuala Lumpur. Currently, the airline is already flying to various cities including Dubai, Sao Paulo and Istanbul. In the past months, Ethiopian Airlines - probably the most profitable airlines in Africa, had been very creative in continuing their operations by quickly refitting their passenger cabins to carry cargo and by offering special flights that offer the opportunity to watch a solar eclipse at 25,000 ft in the air.


Oman Air is restarting twice weekly flights from KUL to Muscat (IATA Code: MCT).
Previously flying 3 times a week to KUL, Ethiopian Airlines will start with one flight a week to Addis Ababa (IATA Code: ADD) for the time being.
Freighter Flights Keep Going Strong
Pos Asia Cargo Express, which operates for Malaysian postal service Poslaju, is starting a new route from Kuala Lumpur to Sibu, Sarawak.

One of the contributors to continuous operations at Malaysia Airports are freighter airlines. Whether delivering precious Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or importing and exporting commercial goods, cargo shipment by air has been going strong amidst the pandemic. Malaysia Airports reports that air cargo operations in Malaysia have been relatively stable. From January to August 2020, data shows that cargo operations in Malaysia averaged at about 65,000 metric tonnes per month, compared to 76,000 metric tonnes a month in 2019 - a slight dip, yet showing resilience nonetheless.

In fact, it seems that cargo flights are very much in demand, as exhibited by the newest route introduced by freighter airline Pos Asia Cargo Express. The new route runs from KUL to Sibu Airport (IATA Code: SBW) in Sarawak and operates six times a week using a B737-400F aircraft.

Group Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Airports, Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh said that KUL has maintained the same number of freighter airlines operating from the airport since 2019. “This proves that KUL remains an attractive regional hub for aviation,” said Dato’ Mohd Shukrie.

“With the upcoming operationalisation of the e-fulfillment hub at KLIA Aeropolis - a joint venture between Malaysia Airports and Alibaba group’s logistics unit, Cainiao – it will further cement KUL's position as a regional distribution hub,” he added. It does look like operations at KUL will only get busier in days to come and it’s nothing but good news to Malaysia Airports as well as to fellow Malaysians.


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