KUALA LUMPUR (April 28): Given the recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia and globally, the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) has revised its passenger traffic forecast and expects a contraction of between 22.9% and 29.1% year-on-year (y-o-y), which translates into 18.9 to 20.6 million passengers.
In the December 2020 edition of its industry report Waypoint, MAVCOM forecast that passenger traffic in 2021 would rebound by between 94.2% and 100.3% y-o-y, equalling 51.7 to 53.3 million passengers, due to the gradual recovery of the aviation sector as international travel restrictions were expected to be lifted in 2021.
In a statement today, MAVCOM said the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21) saw only 1.7 million passengers utilising air services, a 91.1% y-o-y decline from 19.1 million passengers in 1Q20, which could signal significantly lower passenger traffic numbers for the rest of the year.
It said given the reimplementation of the Movement Control Order and with travel restrictions expected to potentially be enforced throughout 2021, demand for air travel is expected to be impacted. MAVCOM's forecast also took into consideration the expected lower load factor and seat capacity for the year.
The Malaysia civil aviation regulator said given that the domestic market contributed significantly to the sector in the second half of 2020, MAVCOM expects the domestic market to continue being the key driver in reviving the industry with a view that the travel bubble between the Recovery Movement Control Order states remain.
However, it said this forecast is premised on the prevailing conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
MAVCOM said the aviation industry is expected to continue weathering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as uncertainties loom over the industry's path to recovery.
It said Malaysia is studying the implementation of an internationally recognised digital health pass, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass, which informs passengers on tests, vaccines as well as other measures they would need to look into prior to travelling.
It explained the pass also provides travellers the ability to share their test and vaccination results in a secure manner.
The adoption of the IATA Travel Pass is expected to facilitate post-Covid-19 travel and spur international passenger movements. Coupled with this, air travel bubbles between green zone countries could also boost passenger traffic, it said.
MAVCOM executive chairman Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim said the commission's downward revision of passenger traffic for 2021, brings to the fore, the clearly difficult task of weighing the underlying challenges faced by the industry.
He said the vaccine roll-out timeline, implementation of stricter or eased public health measures, safe reopening of international borders for air travel as well as changes in air travel demand will continue to influence the sector's speed of recovery.
"As we move further into 2021, MAVCOM will closely observe and assess market developments as well as efforts in mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as we support the return of the nation's aviation sector to pre-pandemic levels," he said.