by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) network of airports, including Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SGIA) in Istanbul, Turkey, registered the highest passenger volume since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, surpassing the four million mark handled for the first time in October, a 28% increase over September.
The airport operator, in a bourse filing last Friday, noted that October’s passenger movements for its network of airports grew by 56.9% over October 2020 with 4.1 million passengers.
International and domestic passenger movements grew by 108.2% and 41.9% to 1.2 million and 2.9 million passengers, respectively, in the month as economies opened up and restrictions on cross border movement eased.
Monthly domestic passenger movements across airports in the country increased three-fold from 362,000 in September to 1.18 million passengers in October.
This 226% increase in traffic followed the lifting of domestic travel restrictions which had also contributed to MAHB achieving more than one million total passenger traffic movements in Malaysia for the first time this year.
In a separate statement, MAHB MD Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood expressed his optimism that the recently announced Vaccinated Travel Lane between Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Singapore’s Changi Airport, as well as the Langkawi’s international travel bubble and upcoming travel corridor between Malaysia and Indonesia will further improve passenger traffic in the coming months.
“The government-to-government initiatives to facilitate safe international travel will certainly contribute to the recovery of the aviation industry that has been severely affected by the imposition of travel restrictions due to Covid-19.
“We are very optimistic that there is an inherent demand for travel, be it for business or leisure. On the part of the industry players, we have to ensure that safety measures are strictly implemented and adhered to so that passengers can travel with peace of mind and do not experience any deterioration in service level,” he said.
He added that pre-Covid-19, the KLIA-Changi route, was the world’s busiest international flight route in 2018 and 2019, recording more than 30,000 flights a year.
“It is likely the same demand will continue to exist for this route,” he said.
The MAHB owned Istanbul SGIA in Turkey continues to record encouraging passenger traffic movements and signals Turkey’s strong recovery in the aviation sector.
In October, Istanbul SGIA registered 2.7 million passengers, a 13% increase from the previous month for international passenger traffic movements.
Turkey’s high vaccination rate at 72.4% of its adult population and the rollout of its very own Covid-19 vaccine, Turkovac, has boosted the confidence of international tourists to visit Turkey.
Istanbul SGIA is still the main contributor to MAHB’s total passenger movements at 66%.
MAHB had also registered 869,445 metric tonnes for its total cargo operations up to October this year, representing a 26% increase from the same period last year.
Homegrown cargo player, My Jet Xpress Airlines Sdn Bhd, had announced this month that it would be increasing its fleet by an additional two aircraft in December. The cargo airline is also seeking to expand its flight routes to China with four new routes and plans to transport cargo from China to India via KL.