Senai International Airport sees rising passenger footfall

Refurbished terminal now boasts a fresh look with its modern and clean design

BY HABHAJAN SINGH

Passenger footfall at the Senai International Airport is seeing a steady rise. By year-end, the airport expects to chalk close to 3.5 million passengers, an 11% rise over 2017.

“It is a realistic target as we are calculating the number based on the existing and upcoming confirmed routes and frequencies,” Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd (SATSSB) CEO Md Derick Basir told The Malaysian Reserve.

SATSSB, a member of MMC Group, owns and manages the airport that saw its three millionth passenger for that year on Dec 30, 2017.

The Senai international airport has received positive feedbacks from customers and industry players for its recent changes and upgrade, says Md Derick

It certainly looks like the Johor-based airport is well surpassing the numbers chalked last year.

As at end-August, the airport recorded a passenger footfall of 2.26 million, up 9.4% from the same period in 2017.

International passengers rose by 36.9% from 297,660 to 407,468, while domestic passengers increased from 1.77 million to 1.85 million, an increase of 4.8% compared to the end of August 2017, according to statistics provided by the airport.

In 2003, when SATSSB took over the airport from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, the airport was then handling about 800,000 passengers.

The Senai international airport is Malaysia’s 1st airport to use AirAsia’s Fast airport Clearance Experience System facial recognition system with self-boarding gates

What has contributed to the rising numbers? For starters, the state of Johor has been busy.

This year, it saw the rollout of a number of new tourism products, including the Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark which features the largest water theme park in South-East Asia. In the pipeline are projects by the likes of Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas and six-star luxury hotel One&Only.

“This foresees an increase in demand for tourism and air travel into the state for the next couple of years,” said Md Derick.

Airline Growth

The Senai International Airport now serves five airlines — AirAsia Group Bhd, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd, Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd and Jin Air Co Ltd — operating to 12 domestic and six international destinations.

The local flights go to Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Subang, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Miri, Sibu, Ipoh, Tawau, Langkawi, Kuala Terengganu and Alor Setar. The international destinations are Canton, Surabaya, Saigon, Bangkok, Jakarta and Incheon.

This year, Jin Air, a wholly owned low-cost subsidiary of Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, commenced charter operations from Seoul, Korea, into the Senai International Airport between January and March.

The airline then decided to continue operating on a scheduled basis from June 2018. It now flies four times weekly. This is certainly a feather in the cap for the Senai International Airport.

At the same time, the region’s largest budget carrier, AirAsia, is introducing two new domestic routes. Beginning October, it will fly four times a week to Ipoh and Alor Setar.

More to Come?

SATSSB officials said it is continuously engaging and negotiating with potential foreign airlines to launch operations into the airport.

It also maintains close engagement with key tourism industry partners such as Johor Tourism, Tourism Malaysia, hoteliers and other tourism players in strategising routes and destinations to market Johor.

“Our airport has the advantage of being the only airport and one of the major gateways to the state of Johor.

“The growing demand from air travellers coming and going via our airport is spurred by Iskandar Malaysia’s rapid development and vibrant economic activities, in addition to the commitment by our local airlines to mount flights from the Senai International Airport,” said Md Derick.

Being located between two major international airports — the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Singapore’s Changi Airport — the Senai International Airport believes it is able to position itself as the alternative airport for these two hubs for commercial flights, airlines pilot training and diversion with its competitive aeronautical and airport charges.

Response to Refurbishment

Asked about the passenger response to the recent changes and upgrade at the Senai International Airport, Md Derick said it has been encouraging.

“We have received positive feedbacks from customers and industry players, especially with the new look and improved retail segment,” he said.

The refurbished terminal now boasts a fresh look with its modern and clean design aimed at providing a more practical and comfortable travelling experience.

“Upon completion, passengers are now able to enjoy better food and beverage offerings such as Burger King, O’Briens Irish Sandwich Cafe and Coffee Sandwich Revival located after the security checkpoint at the departure hall area,” he said.