MAHB targets 3 new airlines in 2020


MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is expected to attract three new airline services to operate from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in 2020 as the airport continues to boost its connectivity to become an aviation hub in the region.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke, in a recent written parliamentary reply, said the addition is expected to increase the seat capacity for destinations in Asia by 3% for both local and international airlines next year.

He was responding to Teh Kok Lim (Pakatan Harapan-Taiping) who asked about the government’s plan to enhance KLIA’s competitiveness for it to become Asia’s regional air hub.

There are currently 114 airlines operating in the country. Last year, MAHB welcomed 13 new airlines, including three in KLIA namely Germany’s Condor, and low-cost carriers; India’s IndiGo and Indonesia’s Citilink.

The arrival of Condor has improved the country’s connectivity to Germany and Europe as the carrier links KL to Frankfurt thrice weekly.

IndiGo operates daily flights from KL to Delhi and Bangalore. The budget carrier is the first to operate in Malaysia since Air India Express ceased operations in 2017.

In total, 50 new routes were introduced and 458 additional frequencies per week were added by MAHB’s airline partners last year.

The higher number of airlines operating at KLIA increased passenger traffic movement to KL to 60 million in 2018. KLIA handled 28.1 million passengers, while KLIA2 handled 31.9 million passengers. Out of the overall total, 72.6% or 43.6 million were international movements.

Loke previously said the government is considering alternative solutions to develop domestic airports. This entailed the liberalisation of airport operations where new players, including foreign companies, will be allowed to partner MAHB.

Loke also said the government is considering the restructuring of regulatory bodies in the aviation sector, namely the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and Malaysian Aviation Commission.

The minister’s comment had triggered a massive selldown which wiped out RM1.09 billion in market capitalisation from MAHB. The company’s shares recovered slightly on Monday before it dropped further yesterday to end 20 sen lower at RM7.99.

Loke has since denied making any public remarks which resulted in the share price dip and said the remarks were made behind closed doors.

He was responding to a statement by the prime minister’s advisor and veteran journalist Datuk A Kadir Jasin who accused him of “talking down the market” with his comments on MAHB.