26 April 2021
MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is understood to have shortlisted at least 10 companies to provide Covid-19 screening and testing for passengers at the international airports it manages in the country. They include MyEG Services Bhd, in partnership with BP Clinical Lab Sdn Bhd; Bestinet Sdn Bhd, in a joint venture with Tass Tech Sdn Bhd; Maju Healthcare Sdn Bhd, in a tie-up with Gribbles Pathology (M) Sdn Bhd; UEM Edgenta Bhd; and MNC Global Sdn Bhd.
The screening and testing are understood to be a precursor to the reopening of borders for international travel. “The tender is for seven airports, namely Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2 as the main airports, followed by Subang (Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport), Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi and Penang [airports],” says a source with information on the matter.
The Edge has learnt that 31 companies applied for the tender documents, with 17 expressing interest and 10 being shortlisted by the airport operator. MAHB and the shortlisted companies did not respond to questions sent by The Edge.
It is unclear whether MAHB is looking at only one player to take up the screening and testing at all of its international airports or whether several companies will be offered contracts. Another source, however, says that among the criteria for the award is for the winning bidder to build testing lounges at the airports.
Nevertheless, the award of the contract for KLIA and klia2 could be a lucrative one. In 2019, KLIA handled 29.2 million passengers while the passenger movements at klia2 totalled 33.1 million. This works out to daily passenger traffic of 80,000 at KLIA and close to 91,000 at klia2.
Considering the delay in reopening borders, lifting interstate travel restrictions and implementing travel bubble arrangements and reciprocal green lanes, MAHB is understood to be looking at testing as many as 20,000 passengers on a daily basis — 10,000 at KLIA and another 10,000 at klia2 — before implementing the testing requirements at its other international airports.
The Edge understands that the charges for the testing and screening may range from US$130 to US$150 (RM536 to RM619) per passenger (to be borne by the passenger), which could work out to more than RM6 million a day for 10,000 passengers or more than RM2.25 billion a year in revenue for the winning bidder.
Sources say UEM Edgenta may rope in Pantai Holdings Sdn Bhd, which has laboratory facilities to strengthen its bid, but this remains conjecture at press time. Pantai Holdings, which operates the Pantai Hospital chain, is part of IHH Healthcare Bhd, a 26.03% unit of state-controlled investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd. Khazanah has a 69.14% stake in UEM Edgenta and a 33.21% stake in MAHB as well.
MyEG, an electronic services provider to the government, announced in May last year that it would be offering a one-stop portal for employers in Malaysia to manage requirements related to Covid-19 screening. Its partner BP Clinical Lab, which set up operations in 1986, is 61.04% controlled by Datuk Beh Chun Chuan, while his wife Datin Poh Lay See holds a 38.96% stake. It is understood that BP Clinical Lab is undertaking the compulsory screening and testing of foreign workers in the country.
Bestinet is 51% controlled by privately held JR Joint Resources Holdings Sdn Bhd and 49% by Norhana Sharkhan. JR Joint Resources is wholly-owned by Datuk Tengku Omar Tengku Bot. Bestinet owns the Travellers Advance Health Screening System, an application that allows governments to manage and enforce travel procedures for air, sea and land travel.
Tass Tech is 70% controlled by Norhana while the remaining 30% is equally held by Raja Muhammad Badiuzzaman Raja Chulan, Mohd Zaki Jaafar and Shukor Ahmed.
Maju Healthcare, meanwhile, is part of Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed’s flagship Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd, which has interests in highways, property development and construction and holds the concession for a bus terminal in Bandar Tasik Selatan, Kuala Lumpur. Maju Healthcare’s partner Gribbles Pathology is controlled by Pathology Asia Holdings Pte Ltd, which is majority-owned by TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group).
It is learnt that the Maju Healthcare-Gribbles partnership is pushing for the reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) technology currently being used in Hong Kong, Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports, among others. It is said to be a fast test, with results under 30 minutes. It is also noteworthy that Gribbles has a total capacity of more than 12,000 tests per day at its eight labs.
Melaka-based MNC Global could be partnering with Taiwan-based Kim Forest Enterprise Co Ltd. Last September, the Taipei Times of Taiwan reported that Kim Forest was to provide Covid-19 test kits to MNC Global for use at international airports. It also said that in the fourth quarter of 2020, Kim Forest would assist MNC Global in setting up test centres and providing devices, reagents, test services and personnel.
Kim Forest’s virus detection kits have been approved for use in the US, according to the Taipei Times, but other details of its capability were not available.
A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia shows that MNC Global is 80% controlled by Datuk Mohamad Ali Mohamad and 20% by Tee Kok Liang. Founded in April 2016, it is engaged in the manufacture, import, export, supply and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, among others.
Last month, MAHB said in a statement that it would be engaging with partners to provide private health safety screening services for passengers at KLIA and klia2 and had obtained the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities to implement such services. “All procedures under this service will be guided by the Ministry of Health to ensure that health safety remains paramount.”
In February, Malaysia Airlines Bhd announced its plan to introduce a digital travel health pass that will be integrated into the national carrier’s mobile app. The health pass will incorporate some modules of the International Air Transport Association’s travel pass, which enables passengers to verify their test/vaccination requirements and status and share their “OK to Travel” status with the relevant authorities.