MAHB’s wish list for Budget 2022

by BERNAMA / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) hopes the upcoming Budget 2022 will include incentives and relief support to help restore air connectivity that has been affected by the pandemic.

The airport operator said the support would also enable continuous growth in the cargo and logistics sector to fulfil the National Transport Policy 2019-2030 that aims to make Malaysia the preferred logistics gateway to Asia.

“With this support, passenger airlines can restart their operations once international border restrictions are lifted while existing or new freighter airlines can aim for long-range connectivity for cargo movement,” the company told Bernama.

It said incentives on landing fee and flight frequency would further encourage more freighter airlines to utilise Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as their “hub and spoke” network while attracting more passenger narrow-body aircraft to operate via KLIA to accommodate the growth of e-commerce shipments within the South-East Asia market.

“These government efforts will help prevent cargo leakages to competitor airports such as Singapore (Changi Airport) and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport) by increasing volume throughput via KLIA,” it said.

MAHB said it has been gearing up for recovery amid the gradual air travel resumption both domestically and globally, and hoping that the government would further support and strengthen efforts to boost its position as a top global airport operator when the aviation industry picks up again.

It is also hoping that Budget 2022 would provide support for non-aeronautical business partners and retailers in the airport.

“Due to severe decrease in passenger movements and restricted international travel during the pandemic, sales of retailers have been badly affected, especially the duty-free businesses.

“Therefore, it is equally important for the government to support the retailers at our airports and help them mitigate losses suffered during the crisis,” it said.

MAHB said among its proposed solutions included amending the Guidelines for Travellers under the Customs Act 1967 to attract travellers to shop and drive up more sales in Malaysia through the revision of standard operating procedures such as reducing the duration of intention to visit Malaysia or after an absence from Malaysia to not less than 24 hours from 72 hours.

It said other revisions are to increase the quota of items such as alcoholic beverage entitlement to 2l from the current 1l per traveller, as well as increasing the tobacco entitlement to two outer cartons from the current one outer carton per traveller for arriving passengers.

The airport operator also proposed that the government considers expanding duty-free operations to the domestic airside at its international airports, namely KLIA, including klia2, Penang International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Kuching International Airport.

“By providing these support mechanisms to (a wider) duty-free retailers, we foresee an increase in government revenue via higher tax collections while retailers can clear excess duty-free stocks and products as well as improve inventory,” it said.

Currently, the gazetted duty-free zones only cover the international airside.

Budget 2022 is scheduled to be tabled in Parliament on Oct 29.