10 February 2020
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) network of airports handled 6.5 per cent more traffic year-on-year (YoY) to 11.9 million passengers in January.
This was mainly driven by the Lunar New Year festive season in Malaysia and buoyant international growth of Istanbul Sabiha Gokchen International Airport (ISG), MAHB said in an exchange filing today.
The airport operator, however, warned that the coronavirus outbreak would affect air travel at least in the short term, with the sharp decline having been seen in the last days of January.
MAHB said international and domestic sector had risen 8.2 per cent and 4.9 per cent YoY to 5.9 million and 6.0 million passenger movements.
MAHB’s total network of airports inclusive of ISG grew 6.3 per cent to 141.9 million passenger movements on a last 12-month basis.
“Overall aircraft movements increased by 7.4 per cent over January 2019 with international and domestic aircraft movements grew by 6.9 per cent and 7.7 per cent, respectively.”
On the local front, MAHB said its airports had registered 8.9 million passenger movements in January for a 6.6 per cent YoY growth.
International and domestic sectors recorded 4.7 million and 4.3 million passenger movements with 4.7 per cent and 8.9 per cent growth respectively over the same period last year.
“This growth, despite being negatively affected by the initial reaction to coronavirus, indicates underlying demand for air travel at MAHB airports,” it added.
Overall aircraft movements increased 9.1 per cent with international and domestic aircraft movements growing 6.0 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively.
MAHB said it would closely monitor the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak, which will have negative impact on air travel at least in the short term.
“The sharp decrease is already seen for the last day of January. Based on 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic, flight cancellations and reductions were among the immediate approaches taken to contain the spread of outbreak.”
However, MAHB said the impact from coronavirus may not be the same as SARS.
Previously, MAHB said SARS resulted in 7.2 per cent decline in international passenger traffic, but the domestic traffic increased by 6.5 per cent, resulting in overall plus 1.0 per cent growth.
“SARS resulted in six months YoY decreases in passenger movements. The current traffic dynamics in volume and structure are different from what was in 2003.”
MAHB said the immediate impact to air travel could be worse due to wider contagion, but the recovery could be quicker compared to the past due to technology and effectiveness in handling the impact.
“Passenger traffic is expected to pick up once the confidence for travel develops as soon as the outbreak is contained.
“2020 Visit Malaysia Year (VMY2020) may also help to mitigate the negative impact from coronavirus, assuming confidence for air travel returns within the next few months,” it added.
Elaborating on the traffic performance, MAHB said its overall average load factor had dropped 2.4 percentage points YoY to 71.0 per cent, partly due to the ongoing sentiments to coronavirus outbreak.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s (KLIA) passenger movements recorded 4.4 per cent increase in January to 5.3 million passenger movements over January 2019.
“International and domestic passenger movements rose 4.2 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively. Asean and non-Asean sector recorded 3.6 per cent and 4.7 per cent growth with 1.8 million and 2.1 million passenger movements.”
MAHB said passenger movements for the main terminal KLIA increased by 7.5 per cent, while the second terminal recorded a growth of 1.7 per cent.
“Overall aircraft movements at KLIA increased by 5.2 per cent over January last year with international and domestic aircraft movements increased by 3.6 per cent and 8.6 per cent respectively.”
ISG’s passenger movements grew 6.1 per cent with international passenger movements increased by 24.4 per cent, while the domestic passenger movements declined 3.8 per cent.