by AZALEA AZUAR
THROUGH the ‘1 Improvement, 1 week’ initiative by Malaysia Airports, almost 150 of weekly improvements have been implemented by the organisation so far in their pledge to host joyful connections and a better travelling experience for their guests passing through the airports nationwide. Today, the campaign that kickstarted in 2018 has entered its fourth year and Malaysia Airports is still maintaining its pace in continuously making improvements.
In 2020 alone, the Group had successfully implemented nearly 50 initiatives. Since the onset of global pandemic COVID-19 early last year, the focus of the campaign was not only to provide a seamless passenger journey at the airport, but also to ensure the safety and security measures of the new travelling norm are well implemented. Numerous efforts have taken place in containing the spread of COVID-19 and efforts are still ongoing to restore air travel confidence.
According to the Group CEO of Malaysia Airports, Datuk Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, Malaysia Airports remains vested in maintaining the highest levels of safety without compromising its service levels. “We maintain our focus on carrying out these improvements at our airports as we want to give assurance to travellers out there that air travel is safe and with all the efforts we have been implementing, they can travel seamlessly and with peace of mind,” he said.
In preparing themselves with the return of passengers once the border is open, Malaysia Airports is also taking this opportunity during the low peak season to continue with its critical mission upgrades such as replacement of aerotrains, rehabilitation of runway and baggage handling system replacement at KL International Airport (IATA Code: KUL). These are among major improvements currently underway by the Group.
In a similar development, the expansion plan for Penang International Airport (IATA Code: PEN) is also underway and travellers can look forward to the Langkawi International Airport (IATA Code: LGK) new passenger boarding bridges (PBB) or aerobridges which are expected to be completed by next year.
Embracing digitalisation and contactless technology
Among other improvements that the Group has implemented was Malaysia’s first e-commerce platform known as shopMYairports featuring exclusive travel retail products. This virtual store allows customers to purchase goods and collectibles online from the network of airports as some of the goods sold are available only at the airport. The public can now seamlessly enjoy the wide selection of branded cosmetics, perfumes, fashion, and lifestyle products from the comfort of their homes simply by just logging-in to the www.shopMYairports.com.my.
As for retail and F&B operations on the ground, Malaysia Airports has also taken the extra mile to introduce new contactless technology for passengers to safely purchase their items by paying through e-wallets at the counter. Not only that, but food ordering has also been digitalised with an online menu and payment platform simply by a scanning the QR code at the F&B outlet. Queue lines are now made minimal and physical distancing can be practised efficiently.
High-end technology is also used to ensure that the airports remain safe as we curb the spread of the pandemic. Robust thermal scanners and sneeze-guard protectors have been installed at KUL and 19 other airports nationwide.
These sensitive thermal scanners can automatically detect body temperature from a distance while the sneeze-guards serve as additional barriers at the check-in counters and areas with high traffic touchpoints.
The cleanliness of the terminal is also maintained through thorough scheduled disinfection exercises using advanced methods such as the Atomising Fog Machine, Blu-ray Anion Nano Spray Gun and Micro Mist Blower.
These contactless disinfection methods minimise the contact of human touch by the general worker at common places but provides the same level of protection for passengers and the surrounding airport community.
At KUL alone, this disinfection exercise is carried out eight times daily.
KUL is also using the latest ultraviolet disinfection technology in its toilets through the installation of an automated device namely the Ultraviolet Chamber (UVC) which produces UV light that interrupts the transmission of airborne infectious pathogens.
At the same time, automated handrail UV light sterilisers have been implemented at the escalators in KUL for to further eliminate germs and protect passengers.
Prevention is better than cure
Malaysia Airports is stringently complying to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and ever since the onset of the pandemic, it is compulsory for every person entering the airport to put on a face mask to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.
For the convenience of both passengers and meters or greeters, Malaysia Airports has also placed a mask and hand sanitiser vending machine at Door 3 of the departure hall at KUL.
They have also installed automated hand sanitiser dispensers throughout strategic locations at all airports as well as physical distancing markers in the lifts, queuing areas, seats, and shuttle buses to ensure guests comply to the SOP to maintain at least one metre apart from each other.
With health screening in place for arriving passengers, more chairs and sitting areas have been added at the immigration arrival hall so that passengers can wait for their turn comfortably.
New additions for enhanced experiences
Other passenger experiences that were improved via the “1 Improvement, 1 Week” initiative last year included the creation of a ‘rainforest’ mural at the C6 aerobridge in Terminal 1, KUL.
This ‘rainforest’ provides an immersive and instagrammable ‘sense of Malaysia’ experience to arriving passengers disembarking from the aircraft.
As they approach the baggage reclaim area, they get to enjoy the newly enhanced landscape comprising orchids and other tropical flowers that represent the country’s unique flora.
There is also a new freshwater aquarium at the departure hall in Terminal 1 of KUL for both the young and old to enjoy before they head to the boarding gates where vending machines have been installed for their further convenience of to get some snacks and food prior to their flight.
At Terminal 2 of KUL, the revamp of the Immigration Arrival Area and Domestic Departure Hall has resulted in a more spacious area and equipped with better facilities including priority counters and lanes for disabled passengers and families with small children.
New carpets were also installed at 37 boarding gates to brighten up the ambience and provide comfort to the passengers.
For families travelling with loved ones who have hidden disabilities such as autism, KUL’s new Butterfly Effect amenities ensure inclusivity and fulfil the organisation’s brand promise of hosting joyful connections.
Passengers will be provided with an exclusive lanyard so that the airport staff are able to assist accordingly at all the main touchpoints.
The main facility called the ‘Calm Room’ located at Level 5 of Terminal 1 KUL is a safe haven for these special passengers to take a breather as navigating through an airport can be a daunting experience.
There are sensory walls and activity stations for them to calm the senses through simulation play. The sensory walls are also located across the terminal for their further engagement at any point during their journey.
These were among the efforts that Malaysia Airports has put in making travelling more memorable and comfortable, especially in this new norm.
Safer roads and better car parks
Providing safe roads to and from the airports is also part of the improvement initiative by Malaysia Airports.
New reflective stickers have been installed on road barriers and lamp posts to enhance visibility while driving in low-light conditions.
This #brightstreetforever initiative is a joint effort with the Public Works Department.
In the same development, passengers can now enjoy the new 500-bay car park area, Car Park E at Terminal 1, KUL which can be conveniently accessed via the Sama-Sama Hotel’s link bridge.
Apart from that, the future-proof “Find My Vehicle” kiosks which are located at the short-term car park Block A and B allow guests to easily locate their vehicles by just keying in their number plate.
Other revamps and improvements at other airports
Meanwhile, both the Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan Airport have implemented the disinfection system for inbound and outbound luggage to ensure that airport safety remains at the highest level.
At Limbang Airport (IATA Code: LMN), the seating area was given a fresh new look while additional check-in counters were installed at Kuantan Airport (IATA Code: KUA) to minimise queues and wait time.
The prayer room at Kota Bharu Airport (IATA Code: KBR) departure hall was refurbished with enhanced flooring to give Muslim travellers a more comfortable visit.
The ablution area has also been installed with new anti-slip flooring for the added safety of users.
KBR is now also equipped with a new self-ticketing system with two autopay machines while its car park has been upgraded with to a total of 350 parking bays.
Mohd Shukrie said every little improvement had contributed to the increased satisfaction of passengers in the past year.
“This is evident from the recent achievement of the KL International Airport in the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) global survey where we scored a perfect score for Q4 2020 and we have been placed at the top spot for the category of over 40 million passengers per annum (mppa).
“Many initiatives were expedited so that we can safely welcome passengers and give them an elevated experience once the borders reopen.
“While we work on the larger projects such as the enhancement of our baggage handling system (BHS) and the replacement of new aerotrains, we will continue to implement quick wins to further restore passenger confidence and stay cognisant with the evolving demands of passengers and the aviation industry, “ he concluded.