By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By TMR
Malaysia has no urgent need to build a new air terminal as an addition to the majority of airports in the country that have already exceeded capacity.
Industry consultant Frost & Sullivan (Australia) Pte Ltd in its market research stated that Malaysia could instead improve its airports’ operational efficiency to increase handling capacity to support traffic growth in the coming years.
“We do not see that there is an urgent need for new terminals. There could be an expansion, improvisation, new aerobridges or other equipment required.
“But improvement in efficiency can take us a long way rather than putting new terminals, which is a huge cost to government and (airport) operators,” Frost & Sullivan associate director for aerospace, defence and security Amartya De said at a briefing of “The Future of Airports — Vision 2030” in Kuala Lumpur recently.
De said the country’s air traffic volume has grown at a steady rate of 7.7% since 2010 and the figure is set to surpass the 100 millionth mark this year at 107 million passengers.
A straight line projection by Frost & Sullivan also showed that the country’s air traffic volume would reach 254 million by 2030.
However, De said eight airports in the country have exceeded design capacity including terminals in Subang, Langkawi, Lahad Datu, Kota Baru, Mulu, Miri, Penang and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
He said the Subang airport, or the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, is the most severely strained with traffic being almost double its design capacity.
De said the Kuching airport is on the brink, while KLIA2 is operating at below capacity of around 60%.
He said common understanding between airport operators and government institutions is also needed to address segregation caused by different passenger service fee to solve the terminal imbalance.
“If airlines can freely choose which airport they want to operate, the first thing to be considered is the passenger’s service fee. Many systems and infrastructure have to be upgraded at the same level in order to have the same service fee,” he added.
Nevertheless, the analyst said airport transformation towards digitalisation would increase airports’ operational efficiency, reduce cost and improve customers’ journey experience.
De said some airports might have claimed to be “Airport 4.0”, but airports worldwide are generally still at the Airport 2.0 stage.
Airport 2.0 works around data enlightenment including digital transformation, wireless communication, integrating systems and data and reducing data silos.
De said Airport 3.0 (2020-2025) operates on a data-driven strategy that supports decision-making, while Airport 4.0 (2025-2030) would be on data exploitation — where the 5G network; digital ecosystem and connected travel experience; machine learning and robotics; and predictive and prescriptive analysis are in place.
Frost & Sullivan also envisioned that airports in 2030 would have digital management of energy and waste, automated intelligent buildings, intelligent passenger tracking, seamless connectivity, predictive retailing, predictive security and smart operation planning.