MAHB passenger traffic dropped in January on restrictions

KLIA captures the bulk of the increase at 97% of the total international traffic recorded

By AZALEA AZUAR

MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) total passenger traffic in January 2021 recorded 8.6% month-on-month (MoM) decline to 2.1 million passengers attributed to renewed travel restrictions in Malaysia and Turkey.

The airport operator in a bourse filing yesterday said overall passenger movement in Malaysia stood at 754,000, while Sahiba Gokcen International Airport (SGIA) in Istanbul, Turkey, registered 1.32 million passenger movements during the month. The figures reflected a year-on-year decline of 91.6% and 55.4% respectively.

“Despite the restricted curfew and flight suspension from the UK, South Africa and Denmark, the one million passenger volume recorded (for SGIA) in January 2021 indicates the underlying demand and significance of air travel in Turkey,” it said.

In a separate statement, MAHB group CEO Datuk Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh (picture) said the air traffic data for January showed that border closures and the reimposition of domestic travel restrictions had adversely affected air traffic movements that had been showing initial signs of gradual recovery after the easing of travel restrictions in the second half of 2020.

However, it expects the government’s national vaccination plan, which will be rolled out from April 2021, and the reciprocal green lane/travel corridor arrangement between Malaysia and Indonesia to have a positive impact on the recovery of the aviation industry in the near term.

The same data indicated that international passenger traffic grew by 25% MoM.

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) captured the bulk of the increase at 97% of the total international traffic recorded. The airport also welcomed Starlux Airlines’ inaugural flight for the KL-Taipei route thus increasing KLIA’s connectivity within the region.

Mohd Shukrie said the uptick underscores the latent demands for travel, especially for business, employment and education purposes.

He is also hopeful that the airport frontliners would also be included in the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine recipients, which would take place between February and April.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been vigilant in ensuring the highest safety standards at the airports so that people can travel safely. The national vaccination programme will certainly help our efforts.

“With the programme in place, we also hope that more travel bubbles can be implemented similar to the one that will happen between Indonesia and Malaysia, perhaps with other countries within South-East Asia. Pre-Covid-19, nearly 50% of our international traffic is from the South-East Asian region,” Mohd Shukrie said.

MAHB’s share price ended four sen or 0.73% higher to close at RM5.54 yesterday, giving the company a market capitalisation of RM9.19 billion.