SEPANG – A total of 20 new international destinations and 80 additional domestic flights are expected to boost air travel further for the network of airports operated by Malaysia Airports including its Turkish asset, Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISG). Some of the new destinations include Hamburg, Basel, Zurich, Sarajevo, Copenhagen, Lyon, and Hannover for flights from ISG with up to 25 weekly frequencies. At KLIA, Malaysia’s flag carrier Malaysia Airlines has reinstated destinations such as London and Jakarta. At the same time, it also added 80 additional flight frequencies to its domestic destinations which had increased KLIA's total domestic weekly frequencies by 26.7%.
According to the group chief executive officer (Group CEO) of Malaysia Airports, Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, even though both Malaysia and Turkey are still imposed with travel restrictions, the airport operator remains optimistic as the demand for air travel is still prevalent based on the continuous new flight offerings by the airlines. “We continue to step up our services to prepare for the return of travellers as we gradually recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 1st quarter this year, KLIA continues to excel in the global airport benchmark - Airport Service Quality (ASQ)- and achieved a preliminary score of 4.99 out of 5.00, topping the 4.98 score achieved in 2020. In addition, we have also enhanced our safety and health standards through the global Airport Health Accreditation programme, whereby ISG was the first airport in the Group to be certified by the Airports Council International (ACI) last month. Six more of our international airports including KLIA are expected to be certified by the end of the 2nd quarter,” Dato’ Mohd Shukrie said.
With Malaysian borders still closed until now, foreign airlines at KLIA such as British Airways (BA) had to temporarily suspend passenger flights for the LON-KUL route. Nevertheless, the airline decided to maintain its presence in Malaysia by introducing new cargo services for the same route. Our partner airlines are forging ahead with their services and evolving with the demand in the new normal. This includes Raya Airways, a leading local cargo airline which had recently expanded its aircraft fleet with a new Boeing 767-200F to increase capacity, frequency, and connectivity due to the boom in the e-commerce sector during the pandemic.
Local airlines remain undeterred and continue to show perseverance in anticipation of the opening of domestic interstate borders. Firefly Airlines (FY) will begin their jet operations which will hub at Penang International Airport (PEN) starting May 2021. FY will utilise Boeing 737-800 for the operations and passengers travelling on FY from PEN can look forward to 3 destinations i.e., Johor Bahru (JHB), Kota Kinabalu (BKI) and Kuching (KCH). These new flights will serve two times daily to BKI and KCH and three times daily to JHB. Last month, we saw improvements in passenger volume at our airports in East Malaysia, particularly BKI, Labuan (LBU), Lahad Datu (LHD), Sandakan (SDK) and Tawau (TWU) which recorded higher passenger movements compared to January and February 2021.
ISG continues its gradual recovery with a 7.4% growth registered in March 2021 compared to the same month last year, with its domestic sector recording double-digit growth of 11.4%. The vaccine rollout in Turkey continues to gain traction since early January this year. To date, 18 million people have received their vaccine. ISG continues to drive passenger movements for Malaysia Airports group by registering 1.6 million passengers which make up 73% of the total group performance for March.