By NUR HANANI AZMAN / Pic By BERNAMA
MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) network of airports, including Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SGIA), handled 6.5% more passengers last month, reaching 11.9 million travellers from 11.2 million recorded in same period a year ago.
The airport operator said January 2020’s overall passenger movement growth of 6.5% was mainly driven by the Chinese New Year (CNY) festive season in Malaysia and buoyant international growth of Istanbul SGIA.
MAHB said the international and domestic sectors recorded 5.9 million and six million passenger movement respectively with a year-on-year (YoY) increase of 8.2% and 4.9% over the same period last year.
The airport operator said on a last 12-month basis, total network (inclusive of Istanbul SGIA) registered a 6.3% growth, reaching 141.9 million passenger movement, the highest recorded by a government-linked company. Overall aircraft movements also increased by 7.4% in January 2019.
“On the local front, airports in Malaysia registered 8.9 million passenger movement in January 2020, a 6.6% YoY growth over the same period last year. International and domestic sectors recorded 4.7 million and 4.3 million passenger movement with 4.7% and 8.9% growth respectively over the same corresponding period last year.
“This growth, despite being negatively affected by the initial reaction to 2019 novel corona virus (2019-nCoV), indeed indicates an underlying demand for air travel at MAHB airports. Overall average load factor was 71%, a decrease of 2.4 percentage points over January 2019, partly due to the ongoing sentiments to the 2019-nCoV,” it said.
MAHB is monitoring the latest developments related to 2019-nCov outbreak. The outbreak will have a negative impact on air travel at least in the short term. The sharp decrease was felt during the last days of January.
Based on 2003 SARS pandemic, flight cancellations and reductions were among the immediate approaches taken to contain the spread of outbreak. However, impact from 2019-nCoV may not be the same as SARS.
SARS resulted in 7.2% decline in international passenger traffic, but the domestic traffic increased by 6.5% resulting in overall plus 1% growth. SARS resulted in six months’ YoY decreases in passenger movement.
The current traffic dynamics in volume and structure are different from what was in 2003. While the immediate impact to air travel could be worse due to wider contagion, the recovery could be quicker compared to the past due to technology and effectiveness in handling the impact.
“Visit Malaysia Year 2020 (VM2020) may also help to mitigate the negative impact from 2019-nCoV assuming confidence for air travel returns within the next few months.
“In the past, during normal Visit Malaysia Years, the international traffic growth had been commendable with double-digit growth,” it said.
Istanbul SGIA’s growth was focused more on international routes in 2019 and continued to January 2020 which grew by 6.1%. The softening of the domestic passenger movement resulted from Pegasus’ route restructuring, in a bid to expand its international routes due to higher yields from the international segment.
There is enough airport and airlines seat capacity for Istanbul SGIA for 2020 to continue its growth trajectory with current schedule and by improving the load factors of the respective airlines.
In a separate filing, MAHB appointed its non-independent director Datuk Zamzuri Abdul Aziz and alternate director Datuk Dr Amiruddin Muhamed.
Zamzuri is currently the procurement division secretary of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). Amiruddin is currently the deputy under secretary (strategic and general) of the government investment division of the MoF.