18 December 2019
Passengers travelling in and out of Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) will now be able to enjoy a hassle-free and smoother airport experience following new initiatives by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB).
As a start, both MAHB and MAB, worked together to form the Innovation Garage Team, an initiative mooted by its mutual shareholder Khazanah Nasional Berhad, to identify problems faced by the airport and the airlines and come up with solutions to resolve those issues, particularly the congestion at the check-in counters and mishandled baggage.
Upon its establishment in June, the Innovation Garage team, comprising members from both organisations had determined that the long queues at the check-in counters and mishandled baggage were problems that needed to be immediately resolved.
To reduce congestion at the check-in counter, the team had proposed to segregate MAB domestic and international flights which used to be centered at row B and C of KLIA main terminal.
“We have moved the MAB check-in counter for international flights to row H, while only domestic flights remain at row B. Apart from that, we also worked together with the other 9 international airlines operating at KLIA, to move to row C, to allow customers to easily check-in and proceed for departure,” said Garage team leaders for Group 1, Amirudin Rahmat, Flight Operations Centre Manager of MAHB and Navindran Rasasingam, Passenger Services Manager of MAB.
Besides that, the team has also relocated all self check-in kiosks to the front, near the main entrance of the departure hall, to further encourage passengers to use the facility.
“This will make for better visibility of the kiosks as well as better accessibility to the machines. Our ultimate goal is reduce the time spent by passengers from the check-in counter and baggage drop until they board the plane.
“The recommended time for this process is about 126 minutes, which we hope to reduce by half. We have made a lot of improvements as we have cut the entire journey duration from the departure gate to the flight by about 15 per cent,” the team added.
During the peak hours of 6am to 9am, there are about 8,000 people flooding the airport and a large amount of people were previously only centered at row B for both international and domestic flights. According to the team, the new initiative has managed to reduce the congestion from 8,000 to 4,000 passengers at row B and moved half to row H for international flights.
Efforts to cut short the time taken at the check-in counters were also helped by the promotions of self check-in by passengers before coming to the airport.
“Typically, the time taken to check-in and drop baggage is about three minutes, but with self check-in done at home, we would be able to save two minutes,” they said.
On improving the baggage handling in the airport, Group 2 of the Innovation Garage team led by Khairul Faizal, Building Services Manager of MAHB and Mohamad Khairi Ngadiran, Baggage Office Head of MAB, identified common problems with baggage handling which are damaged and delayed baggage.
The team had been tasked to reduce these problems by 50 per cent. They said three solutions were implemented including increasing the number of baggage transfer lines, reinforcing ground handling standard operations procedure in KLIA and improving passenger awareness.
According to the team, the number of baggage transfer lines was increased to cope with the increasing volume of baggage. At the moment, KLIA is processing approximately 80,000 daily inclusive of departure, transfer and arrival baggage. Previously, more than half of the transfer baggage were processed at the ‘Hot Transfer’ facility, a semi-auto transfer system to process and transfer baggage for flights with minimum connecting time of 60 minutes or less.
With more transfer lines for transit baggage opened and reinforcement of ground handling Standard Operating Procedures, the team had managed to bring down the rate of mishandled baggage.
MAHB group chief executive officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said the organisation is always open to working together with its partners to enhance the airport experience for its guests, especially in view of the ‘Happy Guests, Caring Hosts’ service transformation initiative.
“The two initiatives that the Innovation Garage team has implemented as an outcome of our 6-month garage exercise immediately addressed the pain-points at KLIA Main Terminal.
“The first group worked out the best solution by bringing the rest of the airport community together, as in the case of the reassignment of the check-in counters to reduce passenger congestion especially during peak hours.
“It may sound rather simple but it involved a lot of stakeholder engagements with nine other international airlines but the results have been very encouraging. We have managed to improve the overall check-in duration by 30 per cent for our departing passengers.
“This is indeed a testament to a successful collaboration between the airport operator and its airline partner so far,” he added.
Meanwhile, MAB group chief executive officer Izham Ismail said the move to convene with the airport operator MAHB in order to enhance passenger experience is timely and most welcomed by the airline. “We thoroughly support the initiatives to improve our passengers journey time at KLIA during peak hours and address mishandled baggage.”
“This collaboration charts the future of our working relationship between MAB and MAHB with the aim of resolving common issues, enhancing safety, as well as creating profitable partnerships.
“By bringing together various talents from both companies and pooling them together into focus groups; each concentrating on different problem statements, we have managed to improve our passengers experience over 24 weeks.”
“Since the move of our international check in counters, we were able to reduce the passengers check in time from an average of 24-30 minutes (queue waiting time during peak period) to 12-15 minutes by having passengers utilise the check-in kiosks and web check-in. We have also reduced the number of mishandled baggage cases by 25 per cent,” said Izham.