28 April 2022
Effective May 1, fully vaccinated travelers to Malaysia will have zero pre-departure and on-arrival COVID testing requirements.
Malaysia is the latest Southeast Asian country to axe mandatory pre-departure and on-arrival tests for fully vaccinated passengers, in turn opening the way for an influx of flights and travelers into the country. On Wednesday, the Malaysia Government confirmed the need for tests and pesky COVID-19 travel insurance add-ons would end from May 1.
Lifting of COVID testing requirements to stimulate travel to Malaysia
Malaysia Airports, operator of Malaysia’s big international airports in Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Penang (PEN), welcomed the decision, saying the decision will ease the traveling experience of passengers entering Malaysia and contribute to the speedy recovery of Malaysia’s airports and airline industry.
“Based on the feedback we received from passengers traveling through our airports since border reopening, we are confident that passengers now will be more encouraged to travel to Malaysia,” says Managing Director of Malaysia Airports, Dato’ Iskandar Mizal Mahmood.
“Apart from reducing the hassle, this latest move will also incur less expenses as COVID-19 tests are no longer required for fully vaccinated travelers, and insurance is no longer necessary.”
A big win for Malaysia’s airlines
A further 46 airlines fly into Malaysia’s busiest airport from 103 destinations in 37 countries. All those airlines are going to get some uplift from this decision. Those airlines flying international routes into Malaysia will benefit significantly, filling up with travelers motivated to fly by a reduction in the cost and rigmarole of landing in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia is also scrapping the need to wear masks outdoors. The country’s more relaxed stance on COVID-19 comes as around 82% of the 32 million strong population is fully vaccinated, with around half the population also having a booster shot. Malaysia’s decision comes not a moment too soon for beleaguered flag carrier Malaysia Airlines, which was already incurring losses before the pandemic but was recently showing some turnaround signs.
Recent positive earnings from the airline were under threat by the war in Ukraine disrupting its already threadbare European flights, alongside currency fluctuations, and rising jet fuel prices. But increasing numbers of travelers flying to (or through) Malaysia may help offset those threats.
Southeast Asia’s top airline destinations are open again
Malaysia also now joins neighboring Thailand and Singapore as having or about to scrap most pre-departure and on-arrival testing requirements.
Thailand is dropping its testing requirements on May 1, while Singapore still requires a pre-departure PCR test but has dropped all other COVID-related entry requirements. It’s a far cry from 2021 when the borders of all three countries were closed, and everyday travelers were locked out.
Singapore’s border liberalization has allowed its flag carrier, Singapore Airlines, to regain some of its former mojo, and Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN) to establish itself as Asia’s number one airline hub – especially with long time rivals Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airport still in crisis mode.
“After two years of coping with the pandemic, a growing number of Asian governments have begun to treat COVID-19 as endemic, as high vaccination levels are achieved in parallel,” says Subhas Menon, Director General of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines. “The progressive reopening of borders and easing of restrictions, including the removal of quarantines for vaccinated travelers and reduced testing requirements, have positively impacted international travel demand.”
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