MAHB's December passenger traffic up 24.18% on lifting of interstate travel ban

MAHB's December passenger traffic up 24.18% on lifting of interstate travel ban
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 12): Malaysian Airports Holdings Bhd's (MAHB) passenger traffic for December rose 24.18% to 2.27 million, from 1.83 million passengers in November.

The increase followed two consecutive months of decline in passenger traffic after the airport operator registered 3.5 million passengers in September.

In a bourse filing, MAHB said Malaysia's December traffic performance was impacted by the lifting of the interstate travel ban on Dec 7 — with domestic passenger movements totalling 1.07 million.

Daily passenger movements rose 50% on Dec 10 and continued to jump by another 50%, reaching a peak of 54,000 passengers on Dec 27, said MAHB.

On a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, total passenger traffic across the airport operator's network registered a decline of 82.4%, from 12.86 million passengers in December 2019.

For the entire 2020, MAHB's total passenger traffic declined 69.6% to 42.96 million, from 141.22 million in 2019.

Overall aircraft movements in 2020 also declined, falling 58.1% to 471,111 aircraft, form 1.12 million in 2019. In particular, domestic aircraft movements fell 51% while international aircraft movements dropped 68.7%.

MAHB also highlighted that its 2020 cargo operations rose on high demand for health and medical supplies and increase in e-commerce activities amid the pandemic.

"Cargo aircraft movements recorded a 46.1% growth in 2020 in line with the increase [in] demand for health and medical supplies despite the reduction in belly space cargo as passenger flights were grounded.

"Domestic cargo volume movements recorded a growth of 0.1% over 2019, recording 186,279 tonnes in 2020, the only sector that performed above the negative zone for year 2020," said MAHB.

At the main terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, passenger traffic declined 96.1% y-o-y to 114,000 in December. Meanwhile, passenger movements at klia2 fell 93.4% to 199,000.

For its other airports in Malaysia, passenger traffic declined 81.4% y-o-y to 755,000 passengers in December.

Meanwhile, MAHB's Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISGA) saw its passenger volume fall 58.1% to 1.2 million passengers in December, from 2.87 million in the corresponding month last year.

Commenting on its performance in 2020, MAHB said the different phases of Movement Control Order (in Malaysia and the closure of international borders in both Malaysia and Turkey from the middle of March had grounded almost all flights, with repatriation, charter and cargo flights continuing to operate during this period.

The first interstate travel restriction and border closure in Malaysia and Turkey resulted in passenger movements declining 85.3% from March to May. The second restriction in movements due to the spike in Covid-19 cases resulted in a decline of 81.2% for October and November after a slight increase in traffic during the relaxed travel period.

ISGA's traffic performance showed an initial recovery in traffic performance with the lifting of intercity travel and Turkey's airspace restrictions in June.

"Traffic recovery is expected to be gradual in line with the distribution of vaccines coupled with the ongoing recovery of the global economy. Travel bubble arrangements and short-haul travel are expected to pave the way and give air travel further momentum in 2021," MAHB said.

Shares in the airport operator were down 0.95% or five sen at RM5.30 today, valuing the group at RM8.79 billion. The counter saw 3.58 million shares traded.

S Kanagaraju