SEPANG – Monthly passenger movements for the Malaysia Airports group of airports including Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISG) in Turkey crossed the five million mark for the first time in 2021 in December. The Group registered a total of 5.35 million passenger movements where Malaysia operations contributed 3.11 million or 58%, and ISG contributed 2.23 million or 42%. For Malaysia, the growth was driven mostly by domestic traffic which registered 2.80 million passengers recording a 30% increase from 2.16 million passengers in November, arising from the long year-end festive holidays. Meanwhile, international passenger movements also registered encouraging growth from November of 114% to 320,371 movements in December. This increase was mainly attributed to the resumption of Umrah travel and the implementation of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme between Malaysia and Singapore. However, Malaysia Airports retains a cautious outlook as both Umrah travel and the VTL programme are temporarily suspended based on the current developments of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Dato’ Iskandar Mizal Mahmood, Managing Director of Malaysia Airports said, “Looking at the demand generated by the VTL programme, as evidenced by the sold-out flights, it is obvious that such programmes will be the catalyst for air travel recovery. We can also see the same demand arising from the resumption of Umrah travel since October. Our December 2021 traffic performance is already at 41.6% of pre COVID-19 levels.”
“Our role as the airport operator is to make sure that we facilitate all the additional SOPs and processes required for such travel. We are in constant discussion with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) and the KLIA Department of Immigration to improve passenger experience. For example, we share daily the number of arriving passengers so that Immigration and MOH can plan their resources. We also provide them with daily passenger processing time for post-mortem review. Apart from that, we deploy our Airport CARE Ambassadors and Aviation Security personnel to manage the passenger flow from the gate to the health screening and immigration areas to ensure safety. Close coordination among stakeholders is key so that passenger experience at the airport remains smooth,” he added.
In tandem with the growth in passenger movements in Malaysia, Malaysia Airports recorded a total of 40,147 aircraft movements in December, a 21% increase from November. International flights also increased by 15% to 6,582 flights in December from 5,732 flights in the preceding month. International airlines continue to resume their operations at KL International Airport (KLIA). Last month, the airport welcomed back Myanmar Airways international (IATA Code: 8M). 8M is offering a daily flight to Yangon from KLIA, utilising the Airbus A320 aircraft.
As for ISG, it continues to record consistent total passenger movements above 2 million since June 2021 as a result of the country’s high vaccination rate and the lifting of interstate travel restrictions. ISG recorded 2.5 million passenger movements last month.