SEPANG – Malaysia Airports remains confident on the gradual recovery of the passenger traffic at its airports with another airline starting operations and the resumption of former airlines at its international airports. Last month, its flagship airport, KL International Airport (IATA Code: KUL) welcomed back Cathay Pacific (IATA Code: CX) after a 3-year hiatus. CX is offering weekly flights to Hong Kong from KUL. KUL is also looking forward to the inaugural flight of Starlux Airlines (IATA Code: JX) from Taipei come January 2021. This new flight is an addition to its Taipei-Penang route that started early this year. As air travel slowly returns to normalcy, the airport continues to be diligent in the implementation of various safety measures to boost passenger confidence.
Meanwhile, at Penang International Airport (IATA Code: PEN), Indonesia AirAsia (IATA Code: QZ) is looking to resume its flight operations from Kuala Namu to PEN effective this month. With this resumption, QZ will be the 6th foreign airline to resume operations at PEN. On top of that, local community airline Firefly (IATA Code: FY) will begin operating at PEN as its 2nd hub by introducing new routes from PEN to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu from January 2021 onwards.
The gradual resumption of airline operations and introduction of new routes continue to provide us with the optimistic outlook of recovery in the aviation sector. With the interstate and interdistrict travel ban recently lifted and the upcoming long holiday season, we are expecting passenger movements to improve this month. Passengers can travel confidently via our airports with peace of mind as we have continuously implemented various COVID-19 safety measures since the onset of the pandemic. Recently Malaysia Airports has introduced yet another initiative for airport guests to have a safe dining experience in the form of a contactless ordering and payment system at the food & beverage (F&B) outlets. Guests will be able to make their order and pay online without the hassle of queueing at the counter. The new technology will be rolled out at its network of airports in phases starting with KUL.
The Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) implemented at most states in Malaysia during the month of November affected the passenger traffic recovery. Similarly, the re-introduction of partial curfew by the Government of Turkey to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases also affected our operations at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (IATA Code: SAW). Nevertheless, SAW still recorded 1.5 million passengers, significantly contributing more than 80% to the Group’s total passenger traffic movements of 1.8 million in November 2020.
As for cargo operations in Malaysia, the new e-fulfilment hub, Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP hub in KUL commenced operations last month, just in time to provide smart supply chain support to the global “11.11 Singles Day” online e-commerce sales by helping facilitate 24-hour delivery within Malaysia and 72-hour delivery to the rest of the world. The eWTP hub is a joint venture (JV) between Malaysia Airports and Alibaba group’s logistic unit, Cainiao, occupying 2.6 million sq ft with 1.1 million sq ft of warehouse space. The new facility is projected to increase cargo volume by 700,000 metric tonnes, doubling KUL’s current volume to 1.4 million per year by 2029.
Current cargo operations in Malaysia continue to show resilience by recording an average of 65,000 metric tonnes a month from January to November this year compared to 78,000 metric tonnes a month in 2019.