MAHB eyes 94m inbound passengers by year-end

We anticipate more Chinese tourists to come and Malaysia’s golden week has yet to start, says the airport manager MD


Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) expects inbound passenger traffic into Malaysia at its airports to reach 94 million by year-end as influx of Chinese tourists and holiday travel seasons kick in.

Its MD Datuk Mohd Badlisham Ghazali (picture) said MAHB has revised its full-year growth target from 6.5% to 8.5% with inbound air travellers would exceed the 88.83 million passengers recorded last year.

“We are anticipating more Chinese tourists to come into the country and Malaysia’s golden week (peak travelling period) has not started yet.

“We expect another bumper month at least,” he told reporters at the sidelines of Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s Mega-trends Forum 2017 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Mohd Badlisham said the end of the year has always been a good time for passenger traffic, and MAHB expects between 93 million and 94 million passengers will travel through the gates this year.

The optimism is boosted with the operation of five new airlines next year, he said.

The operator of the country’s leading terminals — Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA2 — expect more airlines to make Malaysia their air travel destinations.

“I just came back from the World Routes Forum 2017 and was talking to a few airlines. Hopefully, we can add about another five airlines in 2018,” he said, adding that at least two of the new airlines are from countries which are not currently present at the KLIA.

But, Mohd Badlisham warned on the need to improve the infrastructure to support the volume.

“For airports, we have the volume but we need more capacity (upgrading) for airport infrastructure. We will wait to see what the government wants to put in,” he said.

Mohd Badlisham said the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (SAAS) Airport in Subang has reached its maximum capacity, while the Kota Kinabalu (KK) and Penang airports would require additional infrastructure funding in the near term.

The Asia region is the world’s fastest-growing region for aviation with plane makers expecting bumper sales of aircraft.

In August 2017 alone, airports under MAHB’s stable (excluding Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport) — posted a 9.3% year-on-year growth, managing 8.33 million passengers.

International traffic for the month in local airports grew by 17.3% to 4.4 million, while domestic traffic improved by 1.7% to 3.95 million passengers.

On a year-to-date basis, MAHB airports brought handled 95.32 million passengers as of August 2017.

The airport manager also managed to substantially grow its earnings for its quarter ended June 30, 2017 (2Q17), primarily driven by Malaysian operations which helped offset losses from its Istanbul-based operations.

For 2Q17, MAHB achieved a net profit of RM66.93 million versus the RM9.38 million posted in 2Q16, while revenue was also up by 10% to RM1.1 billion over the same period.