Travel curbs hit MAHB’s passenger traffic

The group has taken advantage of the MCO to embark on upgrading its core network operating system in its digital push

By ASILA JALIL / Pic By RAZAK GHAZALI

MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) network of airports handled some 137,000 passengers in April 2020, a 98.8% plunge from 11.8 million passengers recorded in the same period last year as travel restrictions across the world hit air travel.

Of the amount, the airport operator handled some 40,000 international passengers in the month, marking a 99.3% drop from 5.7 million passengers the year before, while domestic passengers fell 98.4% to 97,000 versus 6.1 million passengers in April 2019.

MAHB said the decline was due to Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) and the temporary suspension of Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SGIA) following the Turkish government’s decision to close borders.

“April traffic performance in Malaysia was largely affected by the full enforcement of the MCO. The MCO enforcement in Malaysia has restricted airport and airline operations to only repatriation and cargo flights,” it said in a statement yesterday.

On a 12-month basis, MAHB recorded a total of 121.6 million passenger movements, down 10% from 135.1 million passenger movements posted in the year before.

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) posted 56,000 passenger movements with Asean and non-Asean sectors registering 11,000 and 29,000 passenger movements respectively.

The KLIA Main Terminal and KLIA2 recorded 49,000 and 8,000 passengers in April 2020 respectively. Over the last 12 months, KLIA Main Terminal and KLIA2 registered 25 million and 27.7 million passenger movements, a decline of 11.6% and 13.5% year-on- year (YoY) respectively.

Overall aircraft movements at KLIA fell 93.4% YoY, while international and domestic aircraft movements at KLIA decreased 91.9% and 96.5% respectively.

SGIA only recorded a total of 14 aircraft movements last month, versus 18,437 movements registered in April last year.

The airport was temporarily closed for operations from March 27 to April 30. MAHB said there were several cargo flights in April, while more cargo and charter flights are expected to take place in May, with Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines planning to resume operations from May 28 onwards.

For the total MAHB system, overall aircraft movement contracted 91.6%, with only 7,700 movements recorded last month compared to 91,725 movements recorded in April last year.

International aircraft movements sank 92.9% to 2,610 from 36,699 movements in April 2019, while domestic aircraft movements dropped 90.7% to 5,090 from 55,026 movements previously.

The MCO, initially imposed for two weeks from March 18 with several extensions since, is now expected to end on June 9, 2020, under the Conditional MCO (CMCO). It was implemented to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flights were initially restricted to repatriation operations, to and from the international sector and ongoing rescue of Malaysians to the domestic sector.

Local airlines have since re-commenced flights to key domestic routes with minimal frequencies from April 29, and are ready to increase the number of flights with the government’s endorsements to enable more interstate border movements with strict travelling guidelines.

“The latest announcement of a CMCO from May 4, 2020, allows almost all businesses to resume with tight SOP (standard operating procedure) guidelines. Hence, allowing duty-free shops at our airports to restart business.

“A new norm of travelling would see additional processes, mask enforcement and social distancing, among others, to ensure a safer travel experience being inevitable for the time being,” MAHB added.

The group has taken advantage of the MCO to embark on upgrading its core network operating system as part of its digital transformation programme.

The upgrade would also support other infrastructure enhancements and capacity developments to provide better process automation, augmented contactless self-service robotics and biometrics technology, allowing the airport operator to realise its Airports 4.0 initiative once the pandemic is under control.