by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by TMR FILE
MALAYSIAN Airlines Holdings Bhd (MAHB) recorded 4.8 million passenger movements in January driven by high vaccination rates and encouragement for boosters has resumed travelling activities and loosened restrictions.
In a filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, MAHB said despite the additional challenges from the unfolding of Omicron wave which triggered temporary renewed travel restrictions and tightening of travel procedures to contain the spread of the new variant, booster shot campaigns, is significantly reducing serious illness and hospitalisation, has provided optimism for more progressive relaxation of travel restrictions and procedures.
Malaysia’s daily average passenger movements slowed down as the school term resumed on Jan 10, combined with the effect from the temporary suspension of the Vaccination Travel Lane (VTL) and Umrah services from Jan 8 and Dec 23, 2021 respectively.
“VTL ticket sales, however, resumed from Jan 21 albeit with an interim 50% reduction of ticket quotas and flexibility to increase flight frequencies based on risk assessment of Covid cases in Malaysia and Singapore.
“Notwithstanding the challenges brought by the new variant, January’s 8,700 daily average passenger movements, recorded a much higher average than November 2021 by twofold though slightly lower than December 2021 by 2,000 daily average passengers.
“December, on the other hand, has consistently remained a peak month that records the highest passenger movements in a year, pre-Covid as well as during Covid,” MAHB said.
The airport operator added the new year also started on a positive note with SKS Airways commencing operations to Pangkor and Redang Island on Jan 26 and 31 respectively from Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Subang.
In addition, AirAsia Group Bhd had also introduced new services from Kuching to Langkawi with two flights per week, Bintulu to Johor Baru with one flight per week, Penang to Sibu with two flights per week and Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Terengganu with one flight per week.
Malindo Air had also introduced new services from Kota Baru to Langkawi with four times weekly frequencies from Jan 27.
“These new services had a good average load factor, ranging from 53% to 75%, indicating an underlying demand for additional domestic flights,” said MAHB.
Istanbul SGIA’s traffic recovery momentum had also continued into January 2022 while showing signs of moving towards normalisation with a 49:51 ratio of passenger movements between international and domestic traffic, reaching 72.7% of January 2019 overall passenger movements.
The first week of February 2022 recorded higher daily average passenger movements of more than 75,500 passengers compared to the last week of January 2022 at 62,900 average daily passengers.
“In addition, connectivity in 2022 would see more flights to the international sector from Istanbul SGIA as new slots for Pegasus were approved in December 2021. Pegasus launched new services to Yerevan, Armenia on 2nd February with 3 times weekly frequencies. Pegasus will also be launching another new service in March, with two times weekly frequencies to Ganja, Azerbaijan,” it added.
MAHB added The latest news from National Recovery Council (NRC) on relaxing Malaysia’s borders as early as March brought optimism for the aviation industry. Nevertheless,
“MAHB will continue to monitor the latest developments and challenges regarding the Omicron variant, booster shot roll out and the recent move to include children between five to eleven years old in the vaccination programme for Malaysia.
“The gradual relaxation for air travel in Malaysia in line with the expansion of the vaccination programme is expected to further accelerate passengers’ confidence to travel,” said MAHB.